A fondness for French cuisine has prompted a chef from Kimberley to start his own mobile kitchen, bringing the lavish food style to the Kasi. Chef Katlego Molefi says moving nearly 4000 kilometers from his Galeshewe home in Kimberley to the tropical East African archipelago of the Seychelles in 2017 provoked his dream to start his own mobile catering company called Café a la Maison.
“I have always loved French dishes, because of how precise and detailed they are. It’s very difficult to execute them with all the specific little details and the timing. You must pay attention because they can easily flop, but they are nice dishes that I have grown to love cooking.”
Kicking off his exciting culinary career at the Butler’s Hotel School in Kimberly in 2011, Molefi has gained experience both locally and internationally, working in kitchens in his hometown as well as major cities throughout Mzansi, slowly rising on the hierarchy of cheffing.
The 27-year-old chef has since laid firm roots in the Seychelles, through his membership of the South African Chef’s Association.
Membership within the organisation offers ample opportunities for local chefs to travel abroad and hone their craft. Molefi humbly says he was one of a select few chosen to partake in a year-long exchange program through the department of Tourism in South Africa.
“I was offered to do an exchange program between the Seychelles and South Africa. they choose about 20 members and I was lucky enough to be part of the initiative.”
After completing the year exchange programme in 2018, Molefi returned home to Kimberley. He had already fallen madly in love with the island and made his way back shortly thereafter. The young chef has since taken the reins as chef de partie at a beach restaurant on the island called La Plage, part of the Seychelles archipelago.
“I came back to learn the cultures and cooking style of the Seychelles. The island is mostly comprised of Creole people, which is like a native form of French. I came back to absorb more of the culture and learn a bit more of the language which they also called Creole.”
In 2018 Molefi started running a part time mobile catering company remotely from the Seychelles. With assistance from family and friends, Molefi says Café a la Maison offers “a personalised fine dining experience with exotic undertones available at your doorstep”.
His food packages are a delectable fusion between French and Creole dishes with a sprinkle of Mzansi flavour. “My catering company is inspired by a French café style that brings you French inspired dishes form of a mobile kitchen which means we’re catering door to door,” he says.
Molefi says the company is not like any other Kasi catering company “that charges high prices for drumsticks and meatballs.”
He explains that the concept around Café la Maison is to give you high-end French food on a budget.
“People really encouraged me to continue and not give up and push this catering company. With just a little creativeness, I give my clients intricate French dishes paired with a cocktail.”
The up-and-coming chef says he took a liking to the kitchen at an early age when the ingredients in his home pantry would excite him. However, he says what really drew him to practicing as a chef was watching cooking programs like Masterchef and Top Chef every week.
“During that time, I knew very little about culinary arts and cooking, up until I saw the beauty and the art of cooking and just how much work is being done in professional kitchens.”
Reaching new heights in his 9-year career as a chef, the 27-year-old says that Café a la Maison is just the beginning of bigger things to come. “My future plans are to have a successful business and still be working part time in professional kitchens for the love I have for cooking.”