As a 14-year-old, Xoliswa Mngqibisa started invading her mother’s kitchen with her own cooking inventions. This has given her a great advantage to build and improve her culinary skills over the years. She might not be a chef by profession, but she is indeed a chef by heart who dreams of someday owning a small, intimate restaurant that grows its own herbs.
Xoliswa lives with her mother, Nozipho, her twin sisters and younger brother in Soshanguve, Pretoria. As a child, she loved going to the mall just because her mother allowed her to have any cake she liked.
After completing her schooling career at Lethabong Secondary in Soshanguve, Mngqibisa went on to study human resource management at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
Food has always been her biggest inspiration, and although she is currently unemployed, the 27-year-old aspiring chef is working towards obtaining her assistant chef credits from the Ga-Rankuwa Hotel School.
Like any other foodie, she also has a favourite dish to prepare. “I love making samp and stew and I also like making pie.”
From time to time everyone experiences an embarrassing moment and Mngqibisa is no exception. She spilled the beans on some of her most humiliating moments in and outside the kitchen for Food For Mzansi.
“The most embarrassing thing I’ve experienced so far was when my afro got stuck in the elevator door, then I had to wait for someone to come to the floor so I could move. The most embarrassing moment in the kitchen was when I tried to make marshmallows to impress my niece and the mixture ended up on the ceiling.”
It may be have been embarrassing, but these moments have left her rolling with laugher.
Besides her love for cooking Mngqibisa shared some of her other interests. “I’m a hair model. I used to play rugby for UJ. I love going for walks in nature and going for jogs under the stars.”
With regards to her dream of one day owning her own restaurant, Xoliswa already knows that she wants to serve “a different three-course meal 365 days a year with only one specialty meal”.
Chefs understand better than most people that they’re reliant on the agricultural industry for the freshest product. Mngqibisa is concerned that many young people still do not know that they are already linked to the agricultural value chain. “Agriculture amongst the youth needs to trend. It’s something we all need to have basic knowledge of in order to plant your own herbs and spices, for example.”
Focusing specifically on Mzansi’s agri-industry, Xoliswa says: “Agriculture needs to be taken seriously – especially when it comes to the topic of sustainability, given the drastic climate change that is caused by global warming.”
Mngqibisa’s cooking may have started off as a hobby, but she has become quite popular with her flavorous eatables. She has over 8 000 people following her no-nonsense recipes on her Facebook page, Cooking With Xoliswa.
Her message to aspiring chefs is to always add an “original twist” to meals. This might be exactly why she’s already popular on social media – long before she’s even completed her formal training as a chef.
Xoliswa cooked up a storm for Food For Mzansi with her mushroom and feta penne.