Tell us about The Lazy Makoti?
The Lazy Makoti (TLM) began as cooking lessons for makotis (“brides” in isiZulu), with a focus on traditional South African food. It all started after a friend, who was due to get married, was (1) worried about making a good impression on her in-laws, and (2) had been labelled a “lazy makoti”, so needed lessons on cooking traditional food and had no clue where to start. TLM has since evolved into a food solutions agency. These days we do everything from cooking lessons for groups, individuals and domestic helpers, to recipe development and bespoke catering.
What makes a good cook?
Food blogger and founder of The Lazy Makoti, Mogau Seshoene, has put the sexy into traditional South African food
As clichéd as it may sound – passion and love. Growing up, I remember my grandmother saying: “There’s no love in this food,” as if she could taste the mood you were in as you cooked. Now I’m inclined to believe that. Even the simplest dish tastes amazing when real effort and time is put into making it taste and look delicious.
Your top three South African dishes/foods are…
Butter chicken, chakalaka – great for our favourite pastime of braaiing; make it hot or mild, depending on who you‘re serving – and biltong. I found the American version (called beef jerky – which I absolutely hated) while in the US. No one does it better than us!
Who are your best cooks/chefs?
Chef Werner is the executive chef at The Saxon, where I did my training. His precision and attention to detail is something I try to emulate. Nothing leaves his kitchen unless it’s absolutely perfect. It was amazing training with him. My mother may not be a qualified chef, but her oxtail is the best there is. Television chef, Siba Mtongana – I’m a huge fan. She certainly paved the way for many young black women to see themselves going mainstream. I love how she’s true to her heritage. Food editor, Dora Sithole – I feel like I grew up on Mama Dora’s food. My mom always had a subscription to True Love magazine, where Mama Dora was the food editor for years. My mom still has a scrapbook with cut-outs of all those recipes. It was my job to cut out and paste all our favourites in the book. And, of course, Nigella Lawson – I remember the first time I saw Nigella on television… she made a triple death-by-chocolate cake. I watched in disbelief as she used her finger to taste the chocolate icing. I’d never seen a chef who was a sexy and beautiful woman, who ATE! She tasted and visibly enjoyed everything, and not once did she say how much weight she’d gain, how bad she was being or other crap that girls like me with curvy figures grew up hearing. She’s an absolute delight.
Your favourite Joburg restaurant is…
Qunu at The Saxon, where I did my apprenticeship. The Steak Dianne, which is Karan beef fillet, wild mushroom ragout and steamed rainbow vegetables, flambéed at your table, is my ultimate dish.
What are your career highlights?
They range from meeting Oprah Winfrey and former president Barack Obama through the Mandela Washington Fellowship, to making some of the most celebrated lists, such as Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Young South Africans and the Forbes Africa 30 under 30. I’ve been lucky to fulfil a dream and live out my passion.
Art – an intimate expression of love.
Besides TLM, what else do you do?
In addition to the day-to-day running of the business, we’re getting ready to shoot a television show, which I’m just ecstatic about!
What’s the one thing you don’t like eating?
Gem squash. Give me pumpkin or butternut please, but hold the squash.
What are your tips for hosting the perfect dinner party?
Plan ahead. You can even do all the chopping the night before or well in advance, so all you’ll be doing on the day is cooking. This is important for great time management and to ensure you get to actually enjoy entertaining, knowing that you’re prepared. Always have extra – guests are known to bring plus ones without informing the host. And always have loads of wine. It helps people relax.
What’s your dinner party dream guest list?
The former first lady of the US, Michelle Obama – it would be amazing to just sit and listen to her. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for the same reasons as Mrs Obama. The Nigerian fashion designer, Deola Sagoe – by the end of the night, she would have agreed to dress me. Rupi Kaur, so she can recite her lovely poetry. Comedian Mindy Kaling, because someone’s gotta be funny, right? And lastly, one of the founders of Dine Diaspora, Nana Ama Afari-Dwamena. Dine Diaspora is a food and lifestyle company that hosts experiences around food, culture and heritage in the US, particularly for the diaspora – which is something I would like to achieve with our local cuisine.
Tell us about your future plans for TLM…?
Right now, we sell a range of contemporary kitchen accessories such as chopping boards, aprons, and salad forks, but the ultimate plan is to build a food empire – everything from a cookbook, TV series to retail consumer goods and kitchen accessories. All with an authentic South African flair.
Food trends 2017 are…
The colour purple, particularly food with a purple hue – purple carrots, cauliflower and even potatoes.
Repurposing food waste. Skins, leaves, seeds and stalks of vegetables are now put to new use instead of being thrown away, which is great as it cuts down on food waste and we get to take advantage of the nutrients found in these parts of fruit and veg that previously would’ve been discarded.
Plant-based proteins. Consumers are becoming more and more conscious of what they put into their bodies. They’ll continue to want food that’s responsibly grown and much healthier, while still being convenient.
What’s your favourite food-related reality show?
Who are the top foodies to follow on Instagram?
Which food reminds you most of your childhood?
Oxtail stew and dombolo (steamed bread), sorghum soft porridge and homemade achar. I used to HATE making achar with my grandma – we’d make bucket loads as gifts for neighbours and friends. Our family achar recipe is made with mango, avocado, litchi, pawpaw, pomegranate and orange.
South African food is…
Hearty and warm.