South African television personality Tumi ‘ChewMe’ Mogoai burst onto the scene after winning SABC 3’s popular reality series ‘The Taste Master SA’ which saw her win a coveted spot as the resident chef on local lifestyle series ‘Afternoon Express’. Today, she shares her culinary creations, expert knowledge and infectious flair on the talk show every weekday between 17h00 and 18h00. Now, Tumi opens up about her incredible journey so far.
Where did you first fall in love with food?
My love of food started way back in my mom’s kitchen. She had a way of turning the simplest ingredients into amazing dishes and made me realize how creative one can get with food
What is your earliest memory involving cooking or food?
This is quite a funny memory because I wasn’t even cooking anything! I remember, as early as the age of eight, my mom had bought herself some health shakes and I had the grand idea of making my first attempt at a smoothie/milkshake concoction. I mixed in so many different things that to this day I still cannot remember exactly what went into it. Needless to say, it was complete flop and I ended up chucking out all of it resulting in a hiding that I will forever remember. Did that ever stop me? NEVER!
What was your experience like on ‘The Taste Master SA’?
One thing I can definitely say about ‘The Taste Master SA’ is that it was loads of fun. Seeing the different thought processes that each contestant went through in each challenge made me realise how amazing our differences can be. Besides teaching me how to think out of the box, it allowed me to tap into a childhood passion – television presenting. I remember standing in front of the mirror as a kid, imitating the likes of Vinolia Mashigo and Felicia Mabuza and imagining what kind of presenter or TV personality I would be one day.
The show pushed you in the deep end both culinary and as a presenter. What is the biggest lesson you learned during your time on the series?
I learnt that having my own identity and self-awareness is very important. The show pushed me to celebrate more of myself while breaking down the boundaries that I had set for myself. It pushed me to celebrate my uniqueness and work extensively on who I want to be.
What attracted you to competing to become a personality on ‘Afternoon Express’?
Knowing that ‘Afternoon Express’ had given birth to so many great talents in the industry meant I could pursue two passions I always had. The first being a television presenter on a large, daily platform and second, showcasing my culinary creativity on a television show. It was basically an opportunity to have an answered prayer.
What has been the highlight of your time on ‘Afternoon Express’ so far?
My highlight has certainly been cooking with my mom and son. It was such a special moment for me and I was so proud to showcase how we work as a family unit while giving them the opportunity to see what I do every day. Family is everything and I do not see myself getting greater without my loved ones by my side.
How do you stay creative in the kitchen?
The kid in me has always needed an outlet and cooking has been my form of art. The kitchen feels like my canvas and each dish I prepare feels like a new arrangement piece.
Who would be a part of your dream dinner guest-list?
My mom first and foremost. She grounds me and she always has to be there. Then, the late great uMam Brenda Fassie because I feel like I’m resonating more and more with her now than when she was alive as I was too young and didn’t understand her impact as much as I see it now. Having a chance to sit down with her would mean the world. Finally, I would love to cook for Rihanna because, I mean, she’s Rihanna!
What do you hope to achieve personally and professionally in 2021?
I hope to grow personally, emotionally, spiritually and also financially. I definitely want to start a food truck and hopefully my own food range. I also see myself doing more on TV. I hate putting myself in a box and 2020 has shown me that anything is possible. So I’m ready for whatever 2021 has to offer.