Cou­ple win ‘Taste Kitchen

The Sunday Independent - - FRONT PAGE - AMANDA MALIBA

THE win­ners of the first sea­son of KFC’s cook­ing re­al­ity show were No­sizwe Mji and Ali Ma­jija, who walked away with R1 mil­lion. For 13 weeks, we saw the duo, who en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion to­gether, tackle var­i­ous chal­lenges and show­case their culi­nary skills, un­til they were named win­ners of the KFC Taste Kitchen fi­nale last Fri­day. The Sun­day In­de­pen­dent in­ter­viewed the cou­ple about their re­la­tion­ship with food, what their favourite South African dish was and how they man­aged to keep their cool work­ing to­gether.

What is your favourite tra­di­tional dish?

No­sizwe: Uphuthu nomfino or ub­hontshisi with ujeqe (pap and spinach or beans and dumpling). Ali: Inyama (meat), es­pe­cially when it is thrown straight on a burn­ing log.

How is your re­la­tion­ship with food gen­er­ally?

No­sizwe: I think eat­ing is such a per­sonal jour­ney, es­pe­cially for a woman. Your re­la­tion­ship with food is like any other re­la­tion­ship, a mir­ror to what’s go­ing on with you. I am happy to say that cur­rently I have a good re­la­tion­ship with food. By that I mean it’s bal­anc­ing it­self out and more and more I eat for nour­ish­ment and less for com­fort and other emo­tional rea­sons.

What is the best dish that you can whip up?

Ali: I don’t have a best dish, as I am al­ways work­ing on rein­vent­ing ones that I have come across. The last dish that I was pretty im­pressed by was my steamed bread bunny chow, made with green split-pea curry.

What made you en­ter the com­pe­ti­tion?

No­sizwe: My part­ner, Ali, was so sure he wanted to en­ter. I was a lit­tle ap­pre­hen­sive, but he man­aged to con­vince me. I was swayed, be­cause it was a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity. I had to grab it. The fact that this was KFC’s first cook­ing show made it even more ex­cit­ing and I wanted to be a part of that.

Do you have an eat­ing plan that keeps your body look­ing good?

Ali: I eat any­thing that I like. Eat­ing is a happy fes­tiv­ity for me and my body re­sponds well to that. I also have a very ac­tive life­style.

If you hosted a din­ner party,who would be your top three guests and why?

No­sizwe: 1) Serena Williams – I am in awe of her and her sis­ter’s ac­com­plish­ments. I played ten­nis grow­ing up and ev­ery time I see her play, it takes me back (I was never as good, of course). Her power and fear­less­ness are in­spir­ing! I re­mem­ber when they first played at Wimbledon, these young black girls came out with hair cov­ered in beads ... power!

2) My mom, be­cause she wouldn’t be happy if I had Serena over and didn’t in­vite her! My mom is my rock and num­ber-one sup­porter, from driv­ing us to and fro as kids, to telling me about KFC Taste Kitchen, she has been there sup­port­ing me. I don’t have a TV and so I would have missed the ad­verts an­nounc­ing au­di­tions had it not been for her.

3) Caster Se­menya. She went through a lot and came out on top. She runs her own race.

What is your daily must-have food item?

Ali: Food must en­ter my mouth and be swal­lowed, that’s my only re­quire­ment.

When you get a plate of food, what is the first thing that at­tracts you? Is it the colour, the pre­sen­ta­tion or the con­tents of the plate?

No­sizwe: The con­tents, I love to see va­ri­ety.

What are your plans for your cook­ing ca­reer?

Ali: To cook and cre­ate as much as I can. To learn more about food.

What did you like most about be­ing on the show?

No­sizwe: Mak­ing new friends among the con­tes­tants and pro­duc­tion crew. They are a re­ally great group of peo­ple. I also loved get­ting to know my­self and my part­ner bet­ter. It was such a huge learn­ing curve! We thank KFC for such a great op­por­tu­nity!

Ali: Firstly, I am re­ally grate­ful to KFC for the ex­pe­ri­ence. The com­pe­ti­tion opened doors. I value the peo­ple I met and … there were also lessons of pa­tience.

KFC Taste Kitchen win­ners No­sizwe Mji and Ali Ma­jija.

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