Quickfire Q&A With Zola Nene

She’s one of the greatest celebrity chefs in the country. Having released two cook books, starring as the resident foodie on the Expresso Morning Show and is currently serving as a judge on the popular new reality show The Taste Master, Zola Nene is certainly building up an empire of her own. We caught up with the chef and got to know her a little bit better with a fun, quickfire question and answer session.

You are able to cook for any three celebrities in the world. Who do you choose and why?

Oprah Winfrey – I’ve always wanted to meet her, so having her as a dinner guest would be a dream… also, she loves food so I’m sure she’d enjoy the meal too.
Michelle Obama – I could listen to her speak all day, she’s full of wisdom and insight, I’d like to be in her presence just to soak up some of her energy… I’d also love to see what she’d make of my cooking.
Delia Smith – I used to watch her cook on tv when I was younger, I learnt so much from watching her, I’d love to cook for her and see what she makes of my food and of South African food in general.


What is the most adventurous meal you have had in your life? And how was it?

I once went to a crocodile menu tasting where every course included crocodile, that was probably the most adventurous. It wasn’t bad, actually. The croc tasted and looked a lot like monkfish. I’ve never had it again since though.

Let’s settle the debate. KFC Zinger Wings or Chicken Licken hot wings. Which do you choose and why?

Chicken Licken mostly because living in CT it’s a rarer find here than KFC. Also, Zinger wings are super spicy compared to the milder hot wings.

You can share a kitchen for the day with any chef in the world. Who do you choose and what dish do you prepare?

When I was in chef school, for my final 3rd year assignment I was assigned Tetsuya Wakuda as my chef study where I had to research him and learn about him. I guess i feel like I know him after having studied him so I‘d love to meet and cook with him, I’d definitely make him my mom’s lamb curry.

A typical South African dish for you is…..?

That’s such a difficult question to answer, there are so many… but if I had to choose just one I’d have to say ‘uphuthu namasi” [crumbly maize & sour milk] – I don’t think there’s anything anywhere else in the world similar to that dish.

What is the first ever dish you learnt how to cook? And who taught it to you?

‘Isinqwa sombila’ [steamed mealie bread] was the very first thing I learnt to cook with me grandmother, she let me help her manually grind the fresh mealies for her and mix the batter with her… it’s still one of my favourite things to make and eat today.

Your favourite South African restaurant is…..?

Hmmm… this is an impossible question to answer, there are far too many to choose from. Also, I review restaurants for a living so it would be unfair to single one out. What I will say though, is that South Africa has some of the most amazing restaurants in the world, our standard and quality of food is up there with the best of them!

Is pineapple on pizza a good or bad idea? And why?

I’m of the opinion that people should eat what they like and how they like, so if pineapple on a pizza is your thing, then go ahead.

What is your personal opinion on airline meals?

It depends on what class you’re flying I guess… I’ve actually had some really great meals in the air flying business or first class on international flights. But, I must say, I’ve also had some great breakfasts on local economy flights too.

You are on death row. You are allowed one last meal and one last drink. What would your final meal and drink be?

My final meal would be mom’s lamb curry served with dombolo, coleslaw and potato salad. To drink? A chilled bottle of bubbly.