Chef Khotso Mosia’s first-ever effort in the kitchen was a tray of bright green muffins!
“I was a chubby kid with a healthy appetite and my mom eventually got tired of constantly having to make meals for me, so she taught me to cook and bake for myself. I was about 10-years-old and vividly remember one of the first things I made was a batch of muffins with green food colouring added. I still don’t know why I made them green, but I was hooked and from then on I couldn’t stay out the kitchen because I enjoyed it so much,” he recalls.
“Also, in our house, it was the rule that if you cooked, you did not have to wash or dry the dishes. Naturally, I always elected to cook!”
Even though he loved cooking, though, Mosia did not consider it as a serious career choice and after leaving university found himself teaching English to foreign students for an education company.
“After a while, I realised I was not happy working in this sort of environment. I have always been a creative person, dabbling in painting and photography and I knew that I had to get back to doing what I loved.”
The 30-year-old Gqeberha resident decided to sign up for a City and Guild Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking at that city’s Capsicum Culinary Studio’s campus.
“My rationale for choosing the culinary arts was that as a chef I could still be an artist and do what I love … which is to create. I chose to study at Capsicum as I had heard good things from an old school friend who eventually became a pastry chef. She had done her diploma at the school’s Cape Town branch after we had matriculated in 2008 and later did her Diploma in Patisserie in Gqeberha. We reconnected years later after she had qualified as a pastry chef and she recommended the Gqeberha branch, as she felt they had an awesome team.
“I was extremely happy with the training I received under Chefs Bernice Warner and Pieter de Klerk. I was not fresh out of high school and I knew exactly why I was there and what I wanted. They were both extremely knowledgeable, resourceful, organized and always ready to assist students at any time. They provided me with an excellent foundation technically and with immensely valuable insights into how the real culinary world works when one eventually enters the industry. They went above and beyond; I am forever grateful.
Mosia secured his first permanent job two months into his in-service training at a game lodge in the Karoo as a commis chef and after graduation continued to work as a commis chef, working his way up to chef de partie and then on sous chef at Kuzuko Lodge under the guidance of Chef Marius Maart.
“Having spent three years in the Karoo, primarily producing contemporary South African fine-dining fare at Kuzuko Lodge, I moved back home to Gqeberha where I worked in catering. During that year I also completed a National Certificate in Occupationally Directed Education Training and Development Practices (Assessor). My time in the Karoo had sparked a passion for training student chefs entering the industry and sharing the skills I had learned with staff who did not have any formal qualifications.”
Mosia found producing for large volumes of diners to be both uninspiring and exhausting and after a year in the catering business, he moved to the Wild Coast where he currently resides and works as the sous chef at Umngazi Hotel and Spa.
“Together with kitchen manager Nico Lansdell we create rustic-chic fare primarily focused on the amazing produce grown by our local community and fresh seafood sourced from local community members and suppliers,” he says proudly.
One of Mosia’s favourite seafood dishes is his sublime char-grilled langoustines (you can substitute with prawns) with granadilla & chilli sauce. He kindly shares his recipe with us:
120g chili peppers, deseeded
690g granadilla pulp
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2½ tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
18 langoustines, split lengthways, deveined with heads and shells left intact
Limes halved for decoration
Granadillas halved for decoration
Rocket, for garnish
Prepare your braai coals to a high heat, letting the grill get hot.
Place chilies, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, red wine vinegar and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in bowl and mix in granadilla pulp and set aside for 10 minutes. In another bowl reserve 1/3 of the marinade for serving.
Brush oil over the langoustines and season with salt and pepper. Grill the seafood, cut-side down, until char marks form. Turn langoustines over and brush with the reserved granadilla marinade and cook until opaque throughout.
Arrange langoustines on a platter and spoon over some of the remaining granadilla marinade. Garnish with rocket and granadilla and lime halves and serve.