“I just ran away and started cooking.” How this chef escaped convention


Vusumuzi Ndlovu thought his plans were cut and dried. He’d finish high school, get into university, study hard, and become an engineer as expected. Until it hit him – perhaps this wasn’t his passion after all. It didn’t come close to his love for experimenting in the kitchen and whipping up delectable meals. So while other learners buckled under the pressure to study further, Ndlovu dared to take a different route. “After matric, I just ran away and started cooking,” he says.

There were moments where Ndlovu doubted his decisions. “I thought that I would never get a good job if I didn’t go to university,” he says. It also didn’t help that working in a kitchen wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. “I began my career running the egg section of a hotel,” Ndlovu says. “Every day I had to come in at six and just cook eggs.” But he knew that it would take time, effort, and more than just a pinch of perseverance to control the entire menu. Proving his mastery beyond omelettes, Ndlovu worked his way up the ranks. Today, he’s the head chef of The Marabi Club, a jazz bar and restaurant in Maboneng. “Being a chef has been my dream, but I never saw it happening this fast,” he says.

This year, Ndlovu contended against some of the greatest talents from around the globe. Things heated up at the 2018 S.Pellegrino Young Chef awards. He received international recognition and was ranked the seventh best in the world. It’s just the first course of Ndlovu’s achievements as he sharpens his skills. “The only way is working hard,” he says. When we hone our talents, we can achieve great things. “Use every opportunity you’re given as a chance to grow,” Ndlovu says. Sometimes, the possibility for success lies in the unexpected – even in eggs.