Mogau Seshoene, often known by the name of her business, The Lazy Makoti, grew up in Polokwane and studied at the University of Pretoria. While she was working at an auditing firm, a friend who knew she could cook approached her to teach her how to prepare some traditional African dishes. She knew she’d be known as “a lazy bride” if she got married without being able to cook some core dishes, but all the courses available were for French, Italian or Asian cooking.
Seshoene said yes, and the resulting lessons were so successful that in 2014 the idea for The Lazy Makoti cooking school was born. What started off as a side hustle soon turned into a full-time job, and Seshoene quit her job to enrol in culinary school.
She completed a diploma in Culinary Arts from the Chefs Training and Innovation Academy in Centurion, worked under chef Werner at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg and won R100,000 of seed funding for her business from SAB KickStarter and The Hookup Dinner, which she used to cover her study costs and to set up her business.
In 2018, she published a cookbook The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen, which she counts as her greatest career achievement thus far.
The book was reprinted three times in less than three months, despite the fact that Seshoene had originally struggled to find a publisher until Exclusive Books approached her and offered to help. Even then, she had to fight to include the recipes she wanted to, and to remain authentic to her voice and brand.
“It was yet another lesson in sticking to your guns and boy has it paid off!” she says. “The support from South Africans has truly been overwhelming. The book became a number one best seller in its first week and went on the win an international Gourmand world cookbook award.”
Seshoene’s business brain and willingness to grab every opportunity, despite any fear she might feel, have paid off. For example, she took part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at the University of Wisconsin, Stout, in the USA and has made the Forbes Africa 30 under 30s list.
She says her strategic thinking comes from being curious. “I read a lot and have gained a keen interest in branding and marketing as it relates to heritage, culture and cuisine,” she says. “The different programmes I’ve participated in were also a great help. I believe that one never stops learning, especially in this ever-evolving world. I seek out resources, be it people or books that can encourage that.”
She says the first important step once she knew she wanted a career and business in food was to equip herself with an education. “There’s so much I learned, not only in culinary school, but especially working as an apprentice in the industry kitchen,” she says. “The other thing I’ve been intentional about is knocking on every door despite the fear or imposter syndrome. That’s meant anything from introducing myself to a potential mentor, applying for a fellowship, or emailing a prospective client.”
Seshoene is passionate about her African heritage and about sharing the African narrative. “Years ago, I became aware of the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage,” she explains. “They identify intangible cultural heritages worldwide that are in need of urgent safeguarding. There are lists of literature, art, music and food in need of preservation. The food includes Japanese, French and Italian cuisine. And I started to wonder, ‘What about my food? Why is it not important?’ Food is central to African culture. I want to put South African and African food on that list.”
Seshoene says she’s been fortunate to have mentors and supporters who have opened doors for her. These include the likes of Dora Sitole, former True Love magazine editor and author of Cooking from Cape to Cairo. “Mentors are important, especially ones who reflect everything you can be,” says Seshoene. “It’s also important that people know that mentors don’t have to be ones you meet in the flesh. There are many great people who have shaped my career and thinking despite having never met them. Through books, podcasts, videos and articles I’ve been able to get a window into their lives and principles of success. Mentors can open your eyes and actual doors, and advise against potential mistakes you may not see.”
I’ve been intentional about is knocking on every door despite the fear or imposter syndrome.
Seshoene’s advice to other entrepreneurs is to remember that one can’t be anything to everyone and to pick a lane and stick to you. “A great team gets you further,” she adds. “And there are resources everywhere. Google is your friend; use it instead of waiting for someone else to do that for you. Always be proactive. Equip yourself with knowledge. If you are able to do so, study and get qualified.”
Next on her horizon are some exciting projects she’s not quite ready to reveal yet, as well as a TV show. There’s certainly nothing lazy about Mogau Seshoene!
Seshoene is passionate about her African heritage and about sharing the African narrative.
Name: Mogau Seshoene
Position: Celebrity chef and entrepreneur, and founder of The Lazy Makoti
Recipes from The Lazy Makoti’s Guide to the Kitchen cookbook
Poached pear trifle
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
2 cups water
½ cup castor sugar
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
6 – 8 fresh pears
Vanilla cake/loaf (no icing) cut into chunks
3 cups store-bought vanilla custard
1 packet ginger biscuits, crushed
1 cup store-bought whipped cream
Edible flowers for garnish
In a large pot, bring wine, water, castor sugar, cinnamon stick and nutmeg to a simmer over a low-medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Leave on very low heat for 15 minutes while you peel the pears, keeping them intact, with stems on. Turn up heat to medium and add whole pears to the pot. Gently simmer and poach for 30 minutes until pears are deep red and just tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove each one from the liquid and set aside to cool.
Strain liquid and boil for 15 minutes to reduce volume by half to create a syrup. Allow to cool.
Cut cooled pears in half lengthways. Using a teaspoon, remove core and stem of 2 pears, then cut them lengthways into thin slices for decoration.
In a serving bowl, layer the trifle, starting with chunks of cake. Pour half the poaching syrup over the cake, then place pear halves around inside of bowl, cut sides facing outwards.
Pour in custard and sprinkle over the crushed biscuits. Spread over whipped cream and chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Drizzle with remaining poaching syrup and top with thin slices of the pear and edible flowers.
Dikuku le gemer (scones and ginger beer)
Gemer (ginger beer)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Standing time: overnight
2 litres water
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp ginger powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
Handful of raisins
Peel of 1 pineapple
1 tsp instant dry yeast
Pour 2 cups of water into a pot. Add sugar and dissolve over a low heat, stirring regularly. Add ginger, cream of tartar, raisins, pineapple peel and the rest of the water. Simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool (about an hour) and stir in the yeast. Cover and leave to stand overnight. Strain through a sieve into a 2-litre bottle and chill before serving.
Makes 20 scones
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 10-12 minutes
3½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ cup butter
⅓ cup sugar
1¼ cups fresh cream
Preheat oven to 180°C and grease an oven tray. In a large bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder. Using your hands, rub butter into flour and add sugar. Beat eggs and cream together. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and pour in the cream mixture. Mix with a knife, being careful not to overmix.
On a floured surface, pat dough to a thickness of 2cm and use a cookie cutter to cut into rounds. Place on the greased baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes, until just golden on top.
Cook sweetcorn by grilling over hot coals and dress with one of the following:
Garlic and Parmesan
In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons melted butter, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice.
In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon melted butter, a dollop mayonnaise, ½ teaspoon chilli powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Parsley and chives
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon melted butter with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh parsley and chives.