He cut his teeth at Boccaand Burrata in Cape Town and now he’s making a name for himself at Bryanston’s buzzing Gemelli Pantry – and online – with his gorgeous blog, Loyiso and Spoon. From deep-fried bagels with mango sorbet to pig’s-head tortellini, this is one creative young chef
I started cooking at a very young age. I used to live with my granny, and when I was about nine years old, I started cooking for the family. Isjingi- a dish made from pumpkin mash and maize meal- was a real family favourite. It’s really ﬁlling!
After finishing high school in 2013 I enrolled at Capsicum Culinary Studio in Durban. I spent three years there and then went to Cape Town to do my practical training. I worked at Bocca and Burrata- both part of the same group. The chef at the time, Annemarie Robertson, was a big inspiration to me; she taught me a lot. After studying further, I went back to the group and worked at their third restaurant, Open Door in Constantia.
When I first started working it was really hard. When you ﬁrst start s new job, people don’t believe you can do it. I had to prove myself and show them that I could do it. As a black chef, I felt an extra challenge because there were only a handful of black chefs who are also food photographers.
I got into photography through my dad’s love for it. He’s an engineer but he does photography on the side. In 2016, I did a short course at The Media Academy in Cape Town, focusing on the basics, photographing people and objects. I remember I asked if I could take pics of food instead of people. They said yes, of course, it’s called food photography.
Hein Van Tonder of Hein Stirred inspired me to start my blog. He approached me and we collaborated on a fried brinjal dish – a version of something I used to make at Burrata. It’s something I’ve always loved making – it’s layered with tomato sauce and pecorino.
Now, I’m following in his footsteps with Loyiso and spoon. When you’re a chef you always have a spoon in your pocket. I cook, style and photograph everything myself- it’s really a platform for my photography – though I do occasionally post recipes when people request them.
Having the blog helps me in the kitchen. I like to look back at it when we need to plan a menu. It helps me to stay motivated, too. I’m very passionate about it. It’s got all the elements of carrot cake, plus bone marrow and a red wine cherry jus. I’ve done one version, but I’m experimenting with it more to get it to work as a savoury dish.
I’m currently a sous chef at The Pantry – the downstairs space at Gemelli in Bryanston. We do private functions and serve breakfast and tapas during the day. You should deﬁnitely try our Fusion of the Earth and, for tapas, the oregano salt- and-pepper calamari with pickled brinjal. Upstairs at Gemelli, my favourite is the lamb ragu and the nougat cheesecake.
Italian food is my favourite to cook. It’s what I learnt when I started at Bocca and Burrata = it’s where I found my passion. It’s simple, but when it’s done right, it’s awesome.
I love creating new dishes. When we have a function coming up, we gather round with the head chef and Alessandro [Alessandro Mosupi Khojane – Gemelli’s founder, who grew up in Rome] to come up with dishes. I love being creative, even if it sounds a bit bizarre. I came up with our salt-and-pepper calamari dish – with oregano, rooibos honey, citrus creme and pickled brinjal. When my dishes are included on a function menu, it feels amazing. I feel so proud and motivated – especially if they’re well-executed.
Gemelli Pantry, Shop13, Posthouse Link Centre, corner Main Road and Posthouse Street, Bryanston, Johannesburg; tel: 010 591 4333, gemellirestaurant.co.za. Follow Loyiso on Instagram @loyiso_mtoba and on his blog www.loyisoandspoon.wordpress.com
Article Source: WoolWorths Taste Magazine, July 2018 issue.
Image source: @Loyisa_mtoba on Instagram