Siphokazi's cooking career started when she entered MasterChef South Africa in 2014.
Siphokazi's cooking career started when she entered MasterChef South Africa in 2014.

The life of Siphokazi Mdlankomo is a testament to those who believe you are never too old to reach your goals. In 2014 her life changed for the better when she entered the renowned cooking competition MasterChef South Africa.

Mdlankomo was raised in Tsolo in the Eastern Cape and has four younger brothers. As the only daughter she spent a lot of time in the company of her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. This is where she gained her knowledge and love for cooking. “Every girl child in the rural areas starts cooking at an early age. I was 8 years old,” she added. As a child Mdlankomo fondly remembers sitting around an open fire while her mother Nonkululeko, was busy baking scones in a three-legged pot.

When she finished school at St Cuthberts Secondary, Mdlankomo decided that she wanted to go into the fashion industry. “After passing matric, I tried doing Fashion Design in 1995, back then it was Transkei Technikon, but I soon realised that Fashion Design was not for me.”

Over the years she continued to work as a domestic worker before she entered season 3 of MasterChef. Mdlankomo, also known as Chef Sipho, walked away as the runner up of the competition. Soon thereafter she was approached by brands such Royco and Pick n Pay and now serve as their brand ambassador. She has also been selected as one of Sasko’s top bakers.

She wanted to study fashion but cooking was always her first love.
She wanted to study fashion but cooking was always her first love.

“MasterChef changed my life, because after the show the whole country knew who Siphokazi is. And not only in South Africa, but also in foreign countries who watched MasterChef. So, if it wasn’t for the show maybe I would not be where I am at the moment. The show gave me a platform, I would say it was a stepping stone for me to a brighter future,” says Mdlankomo.

Today she is a freelance foodie and offers her services at a range of different events such cooking demonstrations, she gives cooking classes and judges cook-off team building and competitions. Besides all the recognition that she gets for hosting events, Mdlankomo has also kicked off her own cooking show.

“I do host my own show which airs on Mzansi Magic called “Let’s Eat! with Siphokazi”, which showcases me cooking delicious, hearty & easy meals with Royco.”

Mdlankomo reckons that it is her positivity that keeps her going every day. We know her story, but there are a few things that we don’t know about her. For instance, Mdlankomo is afraid of snakes, so badly that she can’t even look at a picture. She is afraid of flying, although her work requires her to travel often. And every now and then she loves spending time alone.

For the future she plans to grow her Chef Sipho brand. Mdlankomo also dreams of starting her own cooking school where she can teach those who cannot afford to go to culinary schools.

Her cooking skills are exceptional, and she showed us a thing or two when it comes to the preparation of a delicious chicken stir fry.