Nompilo Mathe is not a professional chef, but she reigns in the kitchen. Known as the queen of cooking on social media, she plans on hosting cooking classes and bagging a culinary qualification in the near future.
The 34-year-old runs her own catering company on weekends, while she works a as a shop assistant during the week. As a child she used to watch her mother prepare food and, in the process, caught a few tips.
Growing up in a rural part of Mpumalanga called Langeloop in Nkomazi municipality, she remembers how she and the rest of the family especially enjoyed her mom’s Sunday lunch.
In 2003 she matriculated from Sidlamafa Secondary School and obtained a qualification in internal auditing from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2007. Today, Mathe works as a shop assistant at a juice company, while trying to grow her catering business to new heights.
“I work at Onderberg Verwerkingskoöperasie, which is a juice factory, as a shop assistant. Over the weekends I bake for clients who have placed orders for edibles such as scones, muffins and biscuits. I also cook for small functions like baby showers,” Mathe says.
She admits that she draws motivation from both her mother and husband, as the two have always supported and encouraged her to chase her dreams.
“They are dedicated to their work and that is what motivates me – to be like them. My mother is my source of calmness and confidence. She knows exactly when to push hard and when to slow down. It is something I have inherited from her.”
Mathe is very shy, yet she can be quite talkative at times. And her food speaks volumes of her ability to cook and bake. “Nothing beats loving what you do and that is what makes my food special. It is made with love and a smile.”
Nowadays she lives in Mbombela with her husband Given and their 10-year-old son Junior. She is a firm believer that you just have to persevere and persist in what you love to do and whatever your passion requires, even though the journey is not always easy. “Not all storms come to disrupt your life,” says Mathe. “Some come to clear your path, but when you persevere and know what you want will happen.”
At this point in her life, Mathe’s greatest desire is to become a professional chef to open the doors of her own restaurant one day.
“When I look at the future, I see myself owning a restaurant where you can ask the chef to prepare something that you haven’t tasted before. I want to come with something new, because here in Mzansi most of the restaurants prepare the same food.”
Her plan to have a restaurant connects with her goal to also host cooking classes. “Another thing, I want to start having cooking classes especially where I come from, because in Nkomazi we don’t have such things. People there want to learn how to cook good food, but there is no place where they can go. Through this I want to encourage them to grow their own vegetables at home as well.”