Knives out

Pro­fes­sional chefs from all over the coun­try bat­tle it out in the kitchen in Top Chef SA.

TV Plus (South Africa) - - REALITY -

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.


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!

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