Marcus Modimokwane has a simple formula for anyone wanting to be successful in the culinary industry. Passion plus skill plus research equals success.
“It’s really not rocket science,” says the 33-year-old from Midrand in Gauteng: “Be passionate, learn a new skill and research new trends, recipes, flavours and ingredients.”
It is a recipe that Modimokwane has followed closely to get him to where he is today – an entrepreneur and successful chef with his own company, The Flavour Studio, that does catering, product development and brand collaborations
A 2018 graduate of Capsicum Culinary Studio, Modimokwane initially worked in brand development and PR industry where he had the opportunity to work with local and global food brands.
“Having culinary qualifications meant that I could have more influence in many projects and tackle challenges better because colleagues realised I knew what I was talking about.”
Modimokwane then had the opportunity to work for one of the leading fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands as a brand manager for the restaurant division and, at the same time, started his business.
“During the Covid lockdown we had no access to a lot of items including our favourite food, takeaways, so I thought it would be a good idea to share some recipes and show people how to make various dishes. I started shooting content and posting it on my social media pages.
“After a while, a few media houses contacted me and asked if I could collaborate with them and create content for their media channels, which helped me grow my profile and attracted paying collaborations with some leading brands.
Modimokwane says he was surprised at the attention he received after posting on various social media platforms saying he couldn’t believe how many people were looking for food content and activity to keep them going through the lockdown.
“I believe that chefs should always push their work on social media pages – especially Instagram and TikTok – because it not only works as their online portfolio but is also attract clientele.”
So when and how did Modimokwane’s interest in food and cooking start?
“My love for cooking comes from time spent in my late grandmother’s kitchen. She loved cooking and never held back from creating the best meals she could. Every Sunday we had a feast at the round table and that remains one my fondest memories of time spent with my gran.”
What made him choose to study at Capsicum?
“I wanted a reputable and internationally recognised school, and Capsicum came top of the list,” he says. “I had a lot of fun there and learned a lot of new skills. I also made some really good friends that turned that have subsequently turned into colleagues and business associates.
“I would recommend it to anyone serious about a culinary career because apart from the practicals, they also teach you important things like business skills, including planning and costings, how to build a menu, create recipes food safety, costings and creative thinking .”
Now that lockdown is over- Modimokwane wants to focus on product development especially around spices and marinades although he still harbours a dream of travelling to Italy to learn how to make different types of Italian cheeses and charcuterie (or salumi as it is called in Italy).
Knowing his passion, skill and penchant for research, it is not hard to imagine that he will be there in the near future doing just that!
In the meantime, we asked him a few fun questions and requested a favourite recipe.
Who are your food idols or mentors?
Chef Grant Achatz, Chef Katlego Mlambo, Chef Nti, Chef Liam Tomlin
Name five things always in your fridge or pantry
Fresh garlic, onions, carrots, black pepper, salt
What would be your last meal?
Asian confit duck leg with butternut puree, roasted sweet potato and spicy plum sauce
Is there anything you do not eat?
If you had to cook dinner for five famous people, who would they be?
Toni Braxton, Tina Turner, Ryan Murphy, Angela Basset, Rebecca Malope
Who’s your favourite celebrity chef?
What are three latest food trends?
More salads, less meat in our plates; traditional food is killing it in the formal restaurant business (mogodu, kota, inyama enhloko); dining together (potluck dinner) is slowly coming back
What chef do you admire most and why?
Dieuveil Malonga, a chef and entrepreneur from Congo-Brazzaville. He specialises in Afro- fusion cuisine, a culinary art he describes as, “a subtle blend of tradition and modernity”
A finalist of the Basque Culinary World Prize in 2018 and a Forbes 30 under 30 honouree,
he is a true inspiration.
How do you rate the South African hospitality industry?
Almost there, we need to push and try more flavours from around the world.
What recipe are you going to share with us?
A Steak and Blue Cheese Salad
2 tbs BBQ spice
Bowl of baby spinach
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 x 200g steaks
cherry tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, diced
100g blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup of cooked sweetcorn
2 tbs lemon juice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Heat a pan to high. Season the steak with the BBQ spice, salt and pepper and pan fry for 4 minutes each side. Let the steak rest, covered with foil, for10 minutes before slicing. Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Place the sliced steak over the salad. For the dressing, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper before drizzling over the salad.
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