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From dusty Lusikisiki to cooking for the King of Qatar

By Buziwe Nocuze

Chuma Cetywayo from Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape still doesn’t believe that she is at the World Cup, cooking for the King of Qatar and fans from all over the world.

The 23-year-old, born in Ngobozane village, is not only flying the South African flag. She also represents her town, which has been on the news for all the wrong reasons — Lusikisiki was named as the rape capital of South Africa in 2020/2021.

The third-year student in hospitality and professional cookery at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology was appointed as one of the Fifa World Cup chefs for this year.

The agency that wished to appoint young chefs first contacted the SA Chefs Association, and then application forms were sent to various culinary studios and hotel schools.

Cetywayo was handed the application form from her mentor.

“I still cannot believe that I am one of the best chefs picked to represent my country on the big stage. Our national team might not be participating in the World Cup, but I represent everyone back home.”

She arrived in Qatar on 3 November and will be there until the World Cup is over.

“It still feels like a dream, and me being here also gives a young girl in rural areas hope that where you are born doesn’t determine your future.”

From the day she received the call, she was in disbelief — until she got to Qatar and went for an induction, and started visiting stadiums.

“I never thought I’d come this far. This whole thing still feels like a dream.”

The feeling was unmatched; it was her first time flying out of the country. She was more than excited and made new friends, which made the journey more pleasant.

“Most countries practice French cuisine, and there was nothing new. I knew everything that was being prepared as I also taught French cooking back home, so we prepared French dishes and a little bit of Arabic, which was new but not that much of a big deal.”

Cetywayo never had it easy. She failed her Grade 11 and also failed her second year at varsity.

“Everything was just a blessing to me because I had to work twice as hard, unlike everyone else, so I never had it easy,” she said.

Cooking at the stadiums has given her confidence and the belief that one day she will open her own restaurant and create job opportunities.

In Qatar, she has learned to appreciate ingredients because, in that country, food safety is an utmost priority; every kitchen has a food inspector who is strict and guided by law.

Pictured above: Chuma Cetywayo in Qatar

Image source: Supplied