Lights, camera, pap! From domestic worker to celebrity chef

 
 
 

Siphokazi Mdlankomo’s culinary skills are on fire. Her passion for preparing exquisite meals carries her through life. A domestic worker for 15 years, Mdlankomo had a great relationship with the family she worked for. But not every domestic worker has the same experience. Miniscule incomes and undervalued labour imbibe thousands with resigned dreams. But Mdlankomo had the gall to shoot high. Today, she’s dishing South Africa fresh faith and a feast of home-cooked love.

While employed as a domestic worker, Mdlankomo was heralded as an expert in the kitchen. “I never thought I would be a chef,” she says. In between cleaning, Mdlankomo would watch the culinary programmes that stirred her interest. “That’s when the love of cooking started,” she says. Those around her couldn’t help but notice, and urged her to take her skills to the next level. In 2014, Mdlankomo entered MasterChef South Africa and had the nation rallying behind her. Braving the heat of the stove under spotlights, Mdlankomo emerged as the runner-up. “I didn’t win,” she says. “But my life changed.”

After the finale, South Africa wanted more of Mdlankomo’s bubbly personality. With the release of her cookbook, My Little Black Recipe Book, and a television deal, Mdlankomo’s life fast became a whirr of culinary prestige. “I had dreams of having a cooking show,” she says. “That came true.” Let’s Eat! withSiphokazi is now in its third season. Aside from exploring mouthwatering recipes, Mdlankomo’s specialties are warmed by a central truth: everyone deserves to be what they want to be. If South Africans keep in good spirits, our journeys will be met with joy. “Life is a dish best served with love,” Mdlankomo says.