The 28-year-old catering company owner from Verena, a small village in Mpumalanga, says the kitchen has always been her favourite place, a love that she got from her mother, Sibongile. “I grew up watching my mother cook in the kitchen. I’d often mimic her with my toys and pretend to be cooking as well, and pretend to be serving the family.”
She was a quick study. “I started learning how to cook at the tender age of 10. By the time I was 12 years old, I was making full meals, which we referred to as 7 colours.”
Nonto is the eldest of three children and has two brothers. After completing school at Mgudlwa Secondary School in Verena, she went on to study education at the University of Pretoria in 2009. “Then in 2018 I went on to do my culinary studies and received my diploma from Capsicum Culinary school. This year I will be studying towards my Bachelor in consumer sciences, food and beverages,” she added.
In 2017 she started Happy Cuisines, a business that caters for private and corporate events. She hires two cooks to help her occasionally, depending on the size of the event. Besides being a professional chef, Nonto is also a full-time teacher at Hans Kekana High School in Hammanskraal, Gauteng, where she teaches life sciences, life orientation and English First Additional Language.
Nonto says she dedicates 100% of herself to everything she does. Her purpose is to serve others through her personal and professional life. “My passion for food and people is what keeps me at my best. I strive for excellence and I let it reflect in all that I do.”
Chef Nonto may already live her dream, but her eyes are focused on the future. “I am also passionate about issues relating to children and women, so God willing, I will run a non-profit organisation for children and women. I would also love to, one day, buy my mother a farmhouse, where she can plant and grow her own vegetables and sell livestock. She’s always loved farming and I plan and hope to make that dream come true soon.”
Not only is Nonto a professional chef, entrepreneur and educator, she is also an avid dancer. However, if she cannot please you with her dance moves, her hearty oxtail and jeqe recipe will make up for it.