My name is Siyathokoza Molefe from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), born in a small town of Eshowe Zululand, raised in Pietermaritzburg, the capital city of KZN. I studied at Capsicum Culinary Studio in Durban and did my training at Protea Hotel Edward South Beach in 2015. I moved to the Mother City of Cape Town and worked at La Mouette Restaurant in Sea Point for a few months and then moved to the One&Only Cape Town to work at Reuben’s Restaurant. That’s where the actual race started.
I worked in Reuben’s for two exciting years and got a promotion as Demi Chef de Partie then immediately got transferred to NOBU Restaurant. In between all of that I was chosen to represent One&Only Cape Town in the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge in 2018. It was a challenging experience for me, starting a new job at NOBU and at the same time practising for the competition. With the right mentor, Chef Sandi Richmond, I was able to execute the training and preparation for the competition, putting in the long hours and sacrificing off days.
But the hard work and all the long hours and sacrifices paid off, we were able to conquer the challenge and win the competition in three different categories; Chef of the Year, Lancewood Best Dessert and Best Wine Pairing. It was an honour to participate. I’m so grateful for the help from my assistant chef Sarah de Villiers and most of all Sandi Richmond, the ‘Best Mentor of the Year’, not forgetting the support from One&Only Cape Town.
Where are you currently working and what is your job role?
I’m now working at Atlantis The Palm Dubai Resort in Ossiano Underwater Fine Dining Restaurant, the sister hotel of One&Only. I’m working as Commis 1, same as a Demi Chef de Partie. My role is in the cold kitchen preparing snacks and starters at the highest standards of fine dining in the world. The restaurant is iconic and part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. https://www.thenationalnews.com/lifestyle/food/chef-gregoire-berger-wins-at-best-chef-awards-2019-for-dubai-restaurant-ossiano-1.917005 https://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50.
What’s it like working in the beautiful Atlantis The Palm Dubai?
Working in Atlantis is an amazing opportunity as it is the most award-winning hotel in Dubai with the biggest Water Park and Aquarium with over 65 000 sea creatures, and a variety of award-winning celebrity chefs restaurants with a lot of opportunities to expand skills, knowledge and growth. Atlantis is well known as the A-Team so working here is on a different level and I love it because the co-founder is the late Sol Kerzner, the South African entrepreneur. May his soul rest in peace.
What are your two favourite dishes to prepare for guests at Ossiano Restaurant and why?
Pomme Soufflé and Gillardeau Oyster, grape and verjus, because there are so many steps and processes to execute these two dishes. There’s also a lot of detail to take into consideration and the amazing philosophy behind these dishes. There’s a special potato for Pomme Soufflé harvested in France as well as the Oysters and the grapes from South Africa. I love the connection and combination of these dishes and every time I prepare them I strive to perfect them.
How did your journey begin?
It all began in 2018 with the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge. I was offered a three week internship with three of the finest Michelin Star Restaurants in Amsterdam, The White Room by Jacob Jan Boerma is the Michelin star fine-dining restaurant at NH Collection Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky. Vermeer Restaurant located in the NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace Hotel with 1*Michelin Chef Chris Naylor and Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen (or the Five Flies restaurant).
Since the start of 2019, NH Hotel Group has partnered with Minor Hotels to integrate the hotel brands of both groups into one unique business portfolio represented in more than 50 countries worldwide.
I got an incredible chance to learn different methods of cooking techniques and also experience international fruits and vegetables and other fresh produce from around the world. The year 2018 was the best year of my life as it brought so many opportunities as a young chef and the best of it was that I got my first international trip.
What are your immediate goals and those you wish to attain in the next five to ten years?
My five-year goal is to carry on working abroad for big names and absorbing more knowledge, skills and gain international experience in different kitchens with the best chefs. Ten years, is coming back home to South Africa and starting a cooking studio together with my two friends who are chefs. One of them is Samkelo Hlophe the 2017 second runner-up for the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge. It’s always been our goal as a collective and I believe that’s how we can give back to the generation following after us, as we were also recognised and given this platform by Showcook.
What are your values and how are you refining your skills?
My core values are hard work, dedication, not taking any shortcuts due to money and position and taking my time in the base position to learn as many basics, because if you have the correct basic skills you will have the best flow when you are in the driving seat. Also only working for the best and with the best in the world, to keep on refining my touch, skill and vision, and my best is, to be honest in what I do and stay true to myself and always remember that ingredients don’t lie.
How are you continuing your pursuit of academic excellence or broadening your horizons?
For now, my main focus is on my craft. I am doing an online course by Rouxbe offered by Atlantis.
What are your special interests?
Learning more about the heritage and history of farm to kitchen and knowing and understanding the ingredients I’m working with to have a full understanding of the taste and texture from every detail.