Joburg-born Katlego Mlambo has travelled the world learning about food. At 26, he’s the youngest black male to host his own TV cookery show, e.tv’s Kasi-licious. The show combines cooking with reality TV as Katlego – with a guest in tow – visits his favourite street-food hangouts and then recreates the dishes he knows and loves. We get a sneak peek into his kitchen and his life.
Q. What role did food play in your childhood?
A. Sunday lunch was when the whole family got together, and my favourite part of the week. I went to boarding school, so it was like the ‘last supper’ before I had to go back. It was also the one meal when I knew the food would be fantastic and I could have seconds.
Q. Who has influenced your love of food?
A. My granny lived with us and she took over the role of mother when I was 17 and my mom passed away. She taught me how to cook and love traditional African food such as tripe, umngqusho (samp and beans) and smiley (sheep’s head). She doesn’t waste anything in the kitchen and also cooks with the less popular cuts such as shin, trotters and tongue.
Q. What’s the hardest part of being on TV?
A. Hosting Kasi-licious has been a real eye-opener for me. You have to always remember the viewers at home do not necessarily know what a croquette is, for example, so you must keep that in mind when presenting.
Q. What’s the most creative thing you can do with a tin of baked beans?
A. I make a delicious sausage cassoulet (French stew).
Q. What do you eat at home?
A. I’m trying out the Tim Noakes thing (Banting), so I love lamb chops with roast veggies and salad.
Q. How do you deal with kitchen disasters?
A. During my training, I once burnt 130 mushroom tarts for a function. The chef was not impressed with me that night! Luckily, we had spares and I learnt the value of always having back-up.
Q. Will we be seeing more of you on-screen?
A. TV presenting is a real challenge, especially in the kitchen. I’m a chef – I’m used to cooking, not cooking and talking at the same time! But it’s been an awesome journey and I’m not done yet. Kasi-licious II airs in January, and a cookbook is on the cards, so watch this space!
Q. What’s your top tip for the home cook?
A. Keep it simple, and everything else will fall into place.
Q. Your favourite local ingredient?
A. Definitely maize meal. It’s a staple ingredient and there’s so much you can do with it. I even use it as a coating, instead of breadcrumbs.
Q. What’s your favourite kitchen gadget?
A. I absolutely love my mandolin for slicing vegetables. Watch your fingers!
Q. To garnish or not to garnish?
A. Garnish, but it must be functional and relevant to the dish.