The world is Chef Molefe’s oyster and he’s determined to explore it

by Tia
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Moreleta Park resident Molefe Matsimela graduates with his culinary degree this year, but his chosen career has already seen him working outside of South Africa.

The 21-year-old completed his studies at the Pretoria campus of Capsicum Culinary Studio last year and was chosen to be one of 12 students to take part in a five month placement at a leading 5-star hotel in Mauritius as part of the school’s acclaimed Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme.

Matsimela recently returned from working at the Constance Prince Maurice hotel.

He says the experience more than lived up to expectations: “It was simply incredible. I had the pleasure of working with Chef Scioli, a culinary master known for his three Michelin stars, and, under his guidance, I immersed myself in the remarkable world of gastronomy, where every moment was filled with opportunities to learn and grow.

“A highlight was definitely the opportunity to contribute to major events such as Christmas, Diwali and New Year celebrations. These events not only allowed me to showcase my skills, but also gave me the valuable experience of working with other respected Michelin star chefs from Norway and Canada. It’s an exciting combination of talent, ideas and cultures that enriched my culinary journey in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” he says.

“Beyond the glamorous events, I had the privilege of learning from local chefs who generously shared their expertise and taught me the ins and outs of Mauritian cuisine. From learning traditional dishes to experimenting with innovative flavours, each day brought new culinary revelations and challenges to conquer.

“However, the Mauritius experience was not just about honing my culinary craft; it was also about forging meaningful connections and friendships. Interacting with fellow chefs, locals, and trainees alike, I discovered the universal language of food, transcending cultural barriers and fostering bonds that still last long after my time on the island. Basically, my time in Mauritius was a transformative journey filled with unparalleled experiences, rich learnings and precious memories.”

Matsimela reveals the most important lesson learned: “The importance of patience. The language barrier was a big challenge and communication and learning new things took longer than expected. At first, I was frustrated by the slow progress and difficulty in  understanding the lessons that were being taught and in expressing my ideas effectively. But over time, I realised that patience is not only necessary, but extremely valuable. I learned to give myself the time I needed to understand new concepts and overcome language barriers, and approach every interaction and learning opportunity with a calm and understanding mindset.”

He wants to continue travelling now that his has completed his studies and is exploring the opportunity of working on a cruise ship.

“In five years’ time, if I haven’t embarked on another exhilarating journey around the globe, I envision myself delving into the realm of culinary arts by pursuing a master’s degree. This aspiration aligns with my passion for exploring diverse cuisines and honing my culinary skills to a professional level. I have identified Switzerland, Australia, and Italy as potential destinations for this academic pursuit, each renowned for their rich culinary traditions and institutions.”

We posed a few fun questions:

Name five things always in your fridge or pantry:
Ginger/garlic paste, sun dried tomato pesto, Mozzarella cheese, fish sauce and honey.

What do you not eat?
I have a fairly adventurous palate and am not particularly picky when it comes to food. If a dish is prepared well and cooked to perfection, I’m more than willing to try it regardless of its ingredients or origins. I don’t have specific foods that I outright refuse to eat; rather, I believe in giving everything a fair chance. Whether it’s exotic cuisine or everyday fare, as long as it’s cooked right, I’m open to enjoying it.

If you had to cook dinner for five famous people, who would they be and what would you make them?
If I were to cook dinner for five famous people, I would invite Zendaya, Beyoncé, Viola Davis, Malala Yousafzai and Leonardo DiCaprio. For the menu, I would craft a culinary journey that reflects both sophistication and comfort, ensuring there’s something to please every palate. To start, a refreshing appetizer like a watermelon and feta salad with balsamic glaze would set the tone. For the main course, I would serve a surf and turf dish featuring perfectly grilled lobster tails paired with tender filet mignon, accompanied by truffle mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. To satisfy any dietary preferences, a vegan alternative like a gourmet mushroom risotto could be offered. For dessert, a decadent chocolate lava cake with a raspberry coulis centre would provide a sweet conclusion to the meal.

Favourite kitchen utensil and why?
My absolute favourite kitchen tool has to be chopsticks! There’s something incredibly versatile and enjoyable about using them. Not only do they add a unique flair to cooking, making the whole process more interactive and fun, but they also double up as eating utensils

Favourite celebrity cook?
Jamie Oliver

He shares his recipe for a Triple Chocolate Mousse Torte

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup sour cream, room temperature
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites, room temperature
½ cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp Hershey’s special dark cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup milk, room temperature
2 tbsp water, room temperature
Lady fingers

Chocolate Fudge

170g semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ tsp vanilla extract
½v cup heavy whipping cream
Chocolate Mousse
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
1¾ cups heavy whipping cream, divided
227g semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup powdered sugar
White Chocolate Mousse
1¼ tsp unflavoured powdered gelatine
1½ tbsp water
255g white chocolate chips
1¾ cups heavy whipping cream, cold, divided
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Method

To make the cake and fudge layer: Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 20cm cake pan with baking paper on the bottom and grease the sides. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light in colour and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Do not skimp on the amount of creaming time. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and mix well. Add egg whites one at a time, mixing until well combined after each. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to be sure all ingredients are well incorporated. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine milk and water in a small measuring cup. Add half the dry ingredients to the batter and mix well. Add the milk mixture and mix, then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 19-21 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove to cooling rack and completely. Once the cake is cooled, prepare the cake pan for layering. To set up your cake pan, line a 20×7½cm springform pan with parchment paper that goes about 5cms above the top edge of the pan.

To make the fudge layer, add the chocolate chips, corn syrup and vanilla extract to a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the heavy whipping cream until it just starts to boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl with clear wrap and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour the chocolate on top of the cake and spread into an even layer. Place the cake in the fridge while the ganache firms, about 1 hour.

To make the chocolate mousse: Combine egg yolks, sugar and ½ cup of heavy whipping cream in the top of adouble boiler. Do not let the water boil, or it will be too hot. To ensure that the steam cooking the eggs doesn’t get too hot, occasionally lift the bowl to release the steam. Cook mixture, whisking constantly. The mixture will thin out at first, then begin to thicken. The egg mixture will be ready when is has thickened, lightened in colour and has more volume. It should take about 7-10 minutes and reach 71°C. Do not boil. When done, remove egg mixture from heat and set aside. Place the chocolate chips for mousse in a medium sized bowl and melt in the microwave in intervals of about 10-15 seconds, stirring well between each interval, until smooth. Vigorously whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate until smooth. Set aside to cool to about room temperature. In another bowl, whip remaining 1¼ cups of heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Fold about a ¼ cup of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until , then fold about a ¼ of the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Slowly fold the remaining chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Spread the chocolate mousse into an even layer on top of the chocolate fudge. Refrigerate for about an hour.

To make the white chocolate mousse: In a small bowl, sprinkle the powdered gelatine over the water, making sure the powder is all touching water. Let stand for about 5 minutes.

Place the white chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl. Microwave ½ cup of heavy cream in a medium measuring cup until it comes to a boil. Add the gelatine mixture to the hot heavy cream mixture and whisk until the gelatine is dissolved. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate chips and let stand, covered, for 3-5 minutes. Whisk the white chocolate mixture until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. If it doesn’t completely melt, microwave in 10-15 second intervals, whisking well between each, until smooth. Set aside to cool to about room temperature. Whip remaining 1¼ cups heavy cream and powdered sugar at high speed with a mixer until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold about a third of the cooled white chocolate mixture into the whipped cream until combined. Add the second third of the cooled white chocolate and gently fold into the whipped cream. Add the remaining white chocolate and fold together until completely combined. Spread the white chocolate mousse into an even layer on top of the chocolate mousse. Refrigerate until completely firm, at least 3-4 hours.

To finish off the cake: Once firm, remove the cake from the pan If needed, smooth the sides of the cake using an offset spatula, and place cake on a serving plate. Finish off the cake with placing lady fingers of the sides and adding shredded chocolate on top.

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