Khanya Mzongwana is a jack of many trades and master of all of them! We caught this 29-year-old chef, recipe developer and food stylist and writer in between projects for a quick chat about her culinary journey. Plus, she let us in on the exclusive dining experience she’s co-created for the Tastes Like Music #ForLegends concert series.
As a fourth-generation cook who loves to host, Khanya’s interest in all things food-related was sparked at a young age. Originally from Port Elizabeth, she started working at one of the city’s oldest hotels when she was in high school – ‘and I haven’t stopped cooking since!’ She opened up her first restaurant, the Aztec Kitchen, at the age of 21 and co-managed it with her mother for three years before deciding to leave the Windy City for Gauteng. After settling in Pretoria, she partnered with Sakhile Ndlazi (better known as DJ Bubbles) in 2014 and together they shook up the local foodie scene with their Off-the-wall Pop-up Restaurant.
Today she wears many (chef’s) hats as, among other things, a regular contributor to and collaborator for Eat Out magazine, Woolworths TASTE magazine, the Capital Craft Beer Academy and the African Beer Emporium. She’s also working on a project called Undignified, ‘an ongoing workshop focused on empowering young people through food and helping people find their creative voices via ingredients’.
Music and food fans alike will be delighted to know that Khanya recently joined forces with the Legend Hospitality Group for the Tastes Like Music #ForLegends concert series in celebration of the group’s 20th birthday. ‘I have been paired with various South African musicians to create an experience away from the bustle of the city where guests can expect to be fed well, entertained and unwind,’ she says. Every concert includes a dinner with a unique menu created by chef Khanya and inspired by the favourite foods of the specific artist.
This go-getter foodie is without a doubt an inspiration for youngsters dreaming of a career in the food industry. She shares some practical advice for aspiring chefs: ‘Make your brain a suction for all food knowledge. Don’t be afraid to get into the kitchen and experiment with that yummy food idea. Invest in your craft every opportunity you get!’
Fans and followers should keep an eye out for Khanya’s first cookery book, which she’s currently working on. ‘It’s called Smart Heart, Kind Mind and it’s a handy little book about eating for your mental wellbeing.’ She will also be launching an exciting new pop-up dinner series called No Rules Cafeteria at the No End Contemporary Art Gallery in Linden, Johannesburg.
We can’t wait to see what chef Khanya dishes up next. Follow her on Facebook (@undignifiedco) and Instagram (@undignifiedza) for images that’ll make you want to lick your screen! And don’t forget to book your spot at the next Tastes Like Music #ForLegends concert taking place on 3&4 May featuring The Parlotones at Legend Golf & Safari Resort. Visit www.tasteslikemusic.co.za for more info.