From humble beginnings to finding his way into some of the most important kitchens in the world. Lehlohonolo Mogadime spent the last ten years working in five-star boutique hotels, resorts/villas, and top restaurants. His journey has been a “constant pursuit of evolution”, being innovative and coming up with novel recipes has been his favourite challenge.
MUZI: You have been in the culinary industry for some time, how did it all begin and what made you choose cooking as a profession?
CHEF: I first realised I had a passion and desire to eat good food when I was 5 years old. I attended Pre-school In 1995 when my mother worked at BMW Rosslyn Pretoria West. BMW had an Early Learning Centre where my twin sister attended. It was there where I was exposed to unfamiliar ingredients we hardly bought or ate at home. On weekends I would always be involved in preparing Sunday lunch or snacks. I think that’s how my foundation and passion for cooking started.
There was also a show called Great Chefs of Europe that used to play on Sundays just before the Naked Chef with Jamie Olivier in 1996. It was about the greatest chefs at that time in Paris, London, Spain, and Italy. That’s when I first heard of chefs Like Alain Passard, Pierre Gagnaire, Michel, and Albert Roux Brothers, Daniel Boulud, Marco Pierre White.
My culinary school journey professionally started at Sparrow College in Sophiatown where I completed a two-year catering skills program. After high school, I took a gap year after enrolling for a Catering Diploma at Parktown and did a 1-year trainee apprentice at Browns of Rivonia under the mentorship of Chef Ken Gravy. I then enrolled at Capsicum Culinary Studio in Lonehill, completed and graduated with a Professional Chef Diploma.
MUZI: How would you describe your style of cooking and what’s your signature dish?
CHEF: I would say my style of cooking is classical French, Mediterranean, Oriental, Asian Fusion. I like trying different cuisines from other countries. I also like to cook my food on an open fire using wood and charcoal incorporating a lot of vegetables on the open flame. I don’t have a signature dish or a particular favourite meal. I enjoy flavourful aromatic brothy foods with tough cuts of meat and fish. I’m a winter guy, so I like warm comfort food.
MUZI: What are you cooking this season and any cool recipes for hot summer days you would like to share?
CHEF: This season I plan to cook a lot of seafood on the Braai. I encourage people to cook out of their comfort zone and try new dishes and ingredients you have never cooked with before. I am planning to prepare whole Salt Baked Fish Stuffed with sliced lemon, fresh herbs, and shaved Fennel Bulb.
Tips on how to cook whole Salt Baked fish.
Buy fresh fish from a fish market (Food Lovers Market or Fish Deli), always make sure fish eyes are clear and not damaged, have a fresh, clean smell, firm fish, gills of the fish must look bright red and fresh. You can also create your own choice of stuffing. Avoid using too many ingredients because the vegetables will not cook through because the fish does not take time to cook so, the fewer ingredients the better. Season your fish very well with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
MUZI: Which other chef do you most admire?
CHEF: I have so many chefs that I admire and look up to so it’s very hard to choose just one. Fernand Point, Paul Bocuse, Thomas Keller, Daniel Humm, David Thomson, Peter Gilmore, Gabrielle Hamilton. All these Chefs paved a way for many great Michelin-starred chefs of today. They run the most successful top restaurants in the world.
MUZI: What’s your advice to aspiring chefs that would like to follow the same path?
CHEF: I love Thomas Keller’s Rules to Success, and my advice to aspiring chefs is to follow the same rules.
Thomas Keller 10 Rules to Success
- Have the desire.
- Be consistent.
- Transition to the next level.
- Step outside the norm.
- Play to your strengths.
- Be persistent.
- Surround yourself with great people ( I was fortunate to have great chefs around me, three of them were my mentors: Ken Gravy at Browns of Rivonia, Veronica Canha-Hibbert at The Silo Hotel, and Frederick Leloup at Auberge Michel Restaurant).
- Pursue your true goals.
- Create great experiences.
- Master your craft.
MUZI: Final thoughts, what are you currently working on and any plans?
CHEF: While my plans of hitting the international waters on yachts as a private chef are still a work in progress because of the pandemic, I am working on exposing my brand as an international chef by doing private chef jobs as a self-employed chef. I intend to make every assignment I take on an unforgettable culinary experience.