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A culinary journey in Sandown

Chef Thulani Mathebula’s story is a reminder that with passion and determination, one can turn a love for cooking into a lifelong culinary adventure.

In the bustling kitchen of Truffles on The Park in Sandown, the clanging of pots and pans, and the sizzle of steaks on the grill create a symphony of sensory delights.

At the helm of this orchestrated chaos is chef Thulani Mathebula, whose journey from a small-town cook to a renowned chef is a testament to his passion, perseverance, and unwavering love for food.

Mathebula’s love affair with cooking began in his grandmother’s kitchen. “I grew up around parents and grandparents who enjoyed cooking, and I guess this is where my inspiration and spark for cooking came from.”

He added that his inspiration was drawn from TV shows, magazines, or books, and his mind gravitated towards food until cheffing became his expression in 2003 after college.

“My love and passion for food are the key drivers of my inspiration. The industry, the techniques, and the trends are so vast that one has to innovate constantly.”

Becoming a chef is no easy feat. Mathebula said his journey was filled with long hours, gruelling work, and relentless pressure.

“In culinary school, you learn the techniques, but the real test begins in a professional kitchen.”

He added that in the kitchen he is in now, they are obsessed with parmesan cheese, truffles, and sourdough, and the style is always a reference to a classic, traditional, or foundational dish or cuisine.

“My challenges are many. Controlling the kitchen spending within budget, remaining profitable monthly, and consistently delivering unique, high-quality cuisine has been the challenges I have been trying to overcome.”

Mathebula pointed out that great food that caters to different diets and discerning palettes and preferences is what he is all about, and seeing his chef peers open up food outlets owned by themselves or go into partnerships is inspiring to him.

“This will have an impact on the cuisine being put out. Many are exploring traditional African ingredients, which will become mainstream.”

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