Passionate Makali wins Choppies National Cook-off competition
Talented Unami Gracious Makali cooked her way to first prize, a P10 000 reward and bragging rights as the first Choppies National Cook-off winner over the weekend at Choppies Hyper store at the Northgate Mall.
Makali could not hide her excitement as she took congratulatory hugs and photos with excited attendants and well-wishers, to share her culinary journey through to winning her first cooking competition.
“I was unemployed for some time before I decided to open my own catering and event coordinating company. It was not easy because though I love cooking, I did not have a clue about running a business,” she said nostalgically before adding that she has always loved cooking and that she realized her culinary potential at the age of seven in her mother’s kitchen.
“Cooking has been my lifelong passion, so it was only fitting that I use it to put food on the table, all pun intended,” said Makali who graduated from University of Botswana with an Accounting Degree in 2012.
Now an Entrepreneur Baker, Caterer and Event Coordinator at her small enterprise, Kitchen Poetry- operating from Gaborone, Makali is looking to complete her studies at the Mafikeng Hotel School at the end of November 2017 as a fully qualified Chef, an expensive undertaking she intends to pay off with her winnings.
“It is really expensive and the money is all going towards my tuition fees,” she exhales deeply, her face showing an obvious sign of relief.
Explaining how she joined the competition, the happy winner said she was encouraged by her sister to enter after she prepared traditional food for her mother’s birthday party.
“I had prepared a traditional meal of Lebelebele (millet porridge), Morogo-wa-dinawa and seswaa (pounded meat),” she said and added that, with the help of her sister, she took a photo of the food and uploaded it with the recipe on the Choppies National Cook-off Competition page and was chosen for the next round from close to 500 entries.
The chubby Makali couldn’t take anything from her competitors, who she said put up a good fight.
“I was up against talented individuals and I believe God heard my prayers, not understating my passion and commitment to the craft of course,” she said and revealed that she was not so certain on the second day of the competition as it was ‘Mystery Ingredient’ leg of the competition.
The ingredients were chosen by the judges and one had to choose a box and use all the ingredients in the box to create a rich, flavorful meal presented beautifully.
“I got the shock of my life when I opened the box and found Ditloo (Jogo beans), Rape, Butternut squash and chicken necks and feet!” revealed an animated Makali, who added that she kept her cool and thought long and hard about how and what to prepare with the ingredients at her disposal.
“The mystery ingredients were a real game changer and they proved one’s ability to think on their feet and show creativity,” she noted.
Speaking to the notion that people take the culinary skill lightly, Makali fervently stated that the gastronomic industry needs to be taken seriously.
“Being a qualified Chef is a discipline that needs to be taken as such, this booming industry needs to be given the same platform as all others such as medicine and law, in any case everyone needs to eat every day!” she quipped.
Her future plans include owning an event facility with chalets and a big kitchen which she can hire out to people who do not need her catering services.
“I also want to become one of the biggest event coordinators and caterers this country has ever seen, I believe I’m halfway there,” she smiles.