Chef Funi succeeds despite his many naysayers

Chef Lufuno 'Funi' Sinthumule made a success of his culinary career despite people's doubts in his career choice.

Chef Lufuno 'Funi' Sinthumule made a success of his culinary career despite people's doubts in his career choice. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

When Lufuno “Funi” Sinthumule pursued a career as a chef, many believed that he would not succeed. But he proved them all wrong. He now owns a private chef business, had the opportunity to cook for the BRICS summit and he is well on his way to owning a five-star restaurant.

As a young boy, Sinthumule remembers picking fresh spinach, carrots and pumpkin flowers early in the morning with his grandmother. And still to this day, as a chef by profession, he prefers to use fresh ingredients “from the farm to the kitchen”.

“I am a believer of fresh produce and without all the freshness of the ingredients cooking will not be fun.”

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Born and raised in Venda in Limpopo, Sinthumule has two sisters and one brother. He says both his parents were teachers and pastors. In 1997 he matriculated from Litshovhu Secondary school. After finishing school, he furthered his culinary studies at Vaal University of Technology in Johannesburg.

“I graduated with a National Diploma in Food Service Management, B-Tech Degree in Food & Beverage Management, B-Tech Degree in Post School Education and M-Tech Degree in Food Service Management (Community Nutrition),” says Sinthumule.

Although many did not believe in his dream of becoming a chef, he continued to do what he loves most.

“Many people did not support my career choice as they thought it was not a career that one can make a living out of.”

Today he does food exhibitions, gives private cooking lessons and caters for private events through his business Cooking with Funi. He also works as a culinary lecturer at the Cape Town Hotel School.

Chef Funi

“I run Cooking with Funi, my company that was registered in 2015, and we do private chef work. In 2018 I had the opportunity to cook for five heads of state at the BRICS Summit.”

Sinthumule is not the first one to become a chef in his family. He takes after his grandfather who was a chef at a local hotel. “My grandfather played a huge role as he was a chef and I always adored his food,” he added.

What motivates Sinthumule is the respect he has for his job and seeing the influence that he has on the young and future chefs that he teaches daily. “I am highly motivated when I am able to help and assist my students with their requirements and see them graduate.”

Some things that people do not necessarily know about Sinthumule is that he loves wine and that he does not eat pork because he is a Mulemba (of Jewish faith in the African community).

Sinthumule has his eyes set on opening a space where he can continue to teach culinary students. “I want to own a five-star restaurant that will also have a training kitchen to assist upcoming chefs.”