Emotions ran high in the first episode of SABC 3’s Top Chef South Africa last night, which saw Gauteng-based business consultant and caterer, Tsholo Mbele being eliminated.
Tsholo’s cottage pie, which she made during the Elimination Challenge as a dish that best represents her, won no favours from the judges; Neill Anthony, Lesego Semenya and Lorna Maseko.
Tsholo, who has been cooking since she was just 10-years-old, held her composure as she said her goodbyes and packed her knives. But her fellow contestants didn’t hold up as well, with many of them reduced to tears as they realised their own fragility in the high-stakes competition.
The first episode was not short of drama as the 14 established chefs were put through their paces in the first Quickfire Challenge ‘Whip, shuck and chop’. Racing against the clock they had to finely chop two onions, whip six egg whites to stiff peaks, and shuck as many oysters as possible.
It was Phillip Nel, a chef de partie at Rust en Vrede wine estate, who won the Quickfire Challenge and secured immunity for the Elimination Challenge.
The judges then challenged the contestants to make a dish that best described them as persons and chef for the Elimination Challenge. With unlimited access to the pantry and 2 hours to prepare their meal, each chef demonstrated their own unique style and background in cooking. But drama struck when, with just 10 minutes to spare, chef Ayabonga Gope’s dish landed on the floor and he was forced to start again.
Ayabonga showed grit and determination whipping up a dish that kept him from landing in the bottom 3. It was Tsholo, Paddy Khuele and Hezron Louw who had to face the dreaded Judges’ Table, with Tsholo asked to pack her knives and leave.
Annemarie Robertson’s seared tuna with a chakalaka twist was named the first favourite dish. 13 cheftestants are left vying for the title of South Africa’s first Top Chef.
Be sure to catch all the action on SABC 3 every Tuesday evening at 8pm.