Chef Tunda Kavuna is having the ride of her life!

by Tia
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For Chef Tunda Kavuna, life right now is a real rollercoaster, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Although only 26-years old, the Sunnyside, Pretoria resident has worked in restaurants, bakeries, hotels and lodges and provided personal services as a private catering to clients all across Gauteng and beyond.

A Capsicum Culinary Studio 2023 graduate – where she studied the school’s Assistant Chef course at the Pretoria campus – Kavuna is currently working as a Sous Chef at a 5-star lodge in the Northern Cape.

In-between busy services, we managed to sit down with Kavuna for 10 minutes to find out more about her.

When and how did you interest in food and cooking start?

Growing up we always had friends and family come over to our house and as the oldest I had the responsibility of cooking and making visitors feel welcome. It was that experience that influenced my love for making good food, serving people and seeing them happy. Cooking for me is something that gives my heart pure joy and even more when the people eating the food are happy and satisfied. The preparation process has always been intriguing to me, hence my desire to hone my skills at a culinary school and attain a professional level

to equip me with everything needed to excel in this industry.

What made you choose Capsicum Culinary Studio?

It’s a highly reputable institute that I think stands out from the others. Even before joining I had heard good things about it – both online and by word-of-mouth from other people’s experiences. I definitely made the right choice.

What course did you do and how has what you leaned helped?

I did the Assistant Chef Course which incorporates learning the different standard cooking methods in fine dining. I also did their baking course which has enabled me to acquire the proper skills for baking and making desserts.

What does your current Sous Chef position at the lodge entail?

I help create menus and do prep and plating.

Describe your typical 24-hour day.

I’m usually up around 4am but don’t get much time for breakfast, so I usually just have a cup of coffee and then head to work. I prepare what’s required for breakfast and when that service is done I start the lunch prep. After lunch has been served I take my break and have a proper meal, and then I start prepping for dinner and dessert. After dinner I clean up and make sure everything is in order and then pack up and leave. I usually have dinner at home, so I eat whatever I cooked day before or I quickly make something to eat. My go-to is a quick pasta meal and a glass of wine to wind down from the day. I turn out the light at midnight.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Travelling and exploring different business ventures in the food and hospitality industry.

Five fun questions before you go.

Is there anything you still want to master?

Two things actually. Making seafood effortless and tasty just as I make other dishes and making vegan meals. I really need to work on how to achieve maximum flavour with vegetables.

Name five things always in your fridge at home.

Milk, cranberry juice, eggs, cheese, fruit

What would be your last meal?

Grilled chicken with rice and a side salad.

Is there anything you do not eat?

Caviar and anchovies.

If you had to cook dinner for three famous people, who would they be and what would you make them?

I’d cook for my three favourite celebrity chefs. Gordon Ramsey, for whom I’d make plantain, beans and something called poulet mayo (a dish from my culture); Nick Giovanni, who would get exotic sweet potato flat bread with my version of curry beans; and Chef Amaury Guichon, the chocolatier, who I would serve a milk tart with a twist.

Finally – would you share a favourite quick, simple recipe with us.

Sure. Here’s my recipe for a Spinach & Mushroom Chicken Roulade

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 onion, chopped

1 tbs garlic, minced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 cup baby spinach

½ teaspoon thyme, chopped

½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated

2 tbs cream

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Place the chicken inside a plastic oven bag and beat with a rolling pin till flat and even. Prepare the filling by frying the garlic, onion and seasoning, then add the mushrooms and stir for a minute or two. Finally, add the baby spinach and cook until wilted (one minute). Pour the filling mixture into a large bowl, add the cream and mozzarella cheese and mix. Lay out the flattened chicken pieces then spoon some of the mixture down the long end of the fillet. Gently roll it up each fillet to form a sausage and tie with twine. Season with salt and pepper then place in a baking dish and cook for 30 minutes or until juices run clear. Once cooked, remove from the oven, and slice each roulade into portions for your guests.

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