Professional chefs from all over the country battle it out in the kitchen in Top Chef SA.
Top Chef SA presenter Lorna Maseko (centre) with judges Neill Anthony (left) and Lesego Semenya. Season 1 Tuesdays (from 12 July) SABC3 (*193) 20:00
A lot of viewers haven’t been happy about the changes on the SABC3 schedule as of Monday 4 July. With a 90% local mandate, a lot of international reality shows like Survivor (2000- current) and The Amazing Race (2001- current) were given the boot to make space for new local content. And one of those shows is Top Chef SA (2016- current), which is a South African version of the successful US reality show of the same name (2006- current). As well as getting an inside look into what goes on in a professional kitchen, show presenter Lorna Maseko says that “every contestant’s love affair with food is shown, as well as their competitive nature and desire to beat their opponents”.
Lorna, who’s also presented on Top Billing (1998- current) since 2007, is quite the passionate foodie herself. “I love anything to do with food and it is exciting for me to be a part of this show,” says the 33-year-old who started her own live cooking event in Joburg called Cooking With Lorna And Friends in 2014. “I’m planning to release a cookbook in the future and if everything goes well, I’ll be able to host my own cooking show,” she adds.
“The local version will follow the international format: two challenges – the Quickfire Challenge and the Elimination Challenge – per episode and in each episode one or more of the 14 contestants are sent packing,” explains Trish Taylor, CEO of Urban Brew, the production company bringing Top Chef SA to life.
Neill Anthony is a well-known local TV personality and the 35-year-old chef trained under celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay (host of cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen, 2005- current) and Marcus Wareing (a judge on the UK version of MasterChef: The Professionals, 2008- current). Neill also has his own cooking show called Neill Anthony: Private Chef (2015- current).
Neill adds that when he was asked to be Top Chef SA’s head judge, he jumped at the opportunity, not thinking twice about travelling from Cape Town to Joburg for filming. “I was impressed with the amount of talent the contestants have on the show and the quality of their dishes,” he explains. “Yes, there will be some tears and bad days in the kitchen that will unfortunately eliminate a contestant, but the amount of experience they get while being on the show is priceless!” Fun fact: Neill can often be seen with a pencil behind his ear. “I have it on me because I always find myself writing down recipes or ingredients. I’ve even branded the pencils and give them out as a type of business card to clients.”
Fellow judge Lesego Semenya is an engineer-turned-entrepreneur and the 34-year- old is also a qualified fine- dining chef. He’s a newcomer to the world of reality TV but quickly found his feet among the cameras and lights on set, saying that “I’m brutally honest in my critique of the contestants’ dishes”. Lesego adds, “I was impressed with the diversity of chefs in the series and I was impressed by their level of techniques.” Fun fact: as a trained chef, you’d think that Lesego would be able to master any dish, but he can’t cook pap. “I don’t know why but I just never get the right texture. That’s why I rather let my mom prepare it,” he laughs.
BEHIND THE SCENES
tvplus went on the Top Chef SA set at the end of June while they were filming episode 9 (which should air on 6 September). It was taped at the Brightwater Commons in Randburg, Joburg and the contestants’ tricky Elimination Challenge involved preparing street food for a party of 20. We’re not allowed to say who gets eliminated, but we can tell you that the food (which included lamb sliders with deep-fried zucchini chips and saffron rice with chicken curry) was amazing! And we know – we couldn’t stop “sampling” it!