From Taste Master SA to Executive Sous Chef at Sibaya Life is about balance, the same boiling water that makes rice soft can also overcook it

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Whether it’s a ladies’ cocktail lunch, Valentine’s dinner or canapé’s paired with wine, Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom’s new Executive Chef Zakhele Ndlozi, has the heat under control in the kitchen.

Although Ndlozi began his official journey into hospitality after high school, studying hospitality management at Central Johannesburg College and food preparation and culinary arts at Capsicum Culinary Studio, it was his mother, Sibongile, who inspired him from a young age. “I remember eating plain cooked rice, which was the first dish she would cook before the others were ready. I still enjoy a bowl of plain rice to this day – the building block of a delicious meal,” he said.

Growing up between Alberton and Soweto, Ndlozi cherishes the memory of the smell of freshly baked banana loaf permeating the home while watching TV with friends.

Today, the former contestant of The Taste Master SA season 3 has risen through the ranks at Sun International after starting as a chef de partie 2016 at, The Maslow in Sandton and as a specialist Asian chef working Time Square Casino in Pretoria a year later. Some of his career highlights include personally preparing sushi for celebrity chef Siya Mtongana, who now has her restaurant at The Table Bay, and TV presenter Bonang Matheba.

“I have been inspired and mentored by Chef Adrian Vaughan, Complex Executive Chef at Time Square who is originally from the UK and has vast experience in fine dining having trained under Gordon Ramsey. His knowledge and experience overflows with passion and a zest of precision, discipline, and restraint.

In 2015, I crossed paths with Chef Eric Manykau, an expert in Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi, when he was head chef at The Maslow Sandton’s sushi bar. I had the privilege of acquiring skills that demanded rigorous training. Guided by Manykau, I succeeded in delivering dishes that were thoroughly enjoyed by our guests.”

Ndlozi lives by the food philosophy that “the same boiling water that makes rice soft can also overcook it”, and everything in life is about balance.

Some of his favourite ingredients are pepper, miso paste, and potatoes. “Pepper is one of the pillars of the beginning or finishing of a dish flavour – it is a hidden superhero that needs to shine front row. It is surprising to think that fermented soybeans can bring such unique flavour profile of Umami being sweet, sour salty and bitter. Whether adding it to a sweet dish or savoury, miso paste packs a punch for the ideal balance in a dish. Potatoes are one of the most versatile ingredients – you can do so many things with them, from boiled to deep-fried, sautéed, roasted, pureed even extracted for starch and made into powder. Potatoes are a blank canvas for the imagination, and I find pleasure in exploring the avenues they can lead to.”

His most essential kitchen tool is a whisk, “to ensure my sauces and mash have a smooth texture and consistency”, and a sharp chef’s knife, to ensure each cut and slice is made with precision. When it comes to equipment, Ndlozi says, “You have not lived until you experience the efficiency of a blast chiller, which chills hot baked goods within seconds and makes perfect moulded desserts”. He enjoys using the temperature-controlled blending precision of the Thermomixer which helps to save time.

A proud member of the ‘Allergic to Shellfish Anonymous Association”, Ndolozi says he can be a picky eater when it comes to sushi but adores a thin-crust, wood-fired pizza layered with avocado and fresh coriander.

“I enjoy preparing meals for my family, especially during our shared vacations. I often hear playful remarks like, ‘You’ve inherited my cooking abilities; the teacher has become the student’”. Ndolozi enjoys making ‘Imana’ – a secret family recipe featuring grated mixed vegetable fritters, deep-fried to delightful crispiness on the outside and irresistibly soft at the centre. “This vegetarian delight has become a family favourite; once you’ve experienced it, you’ll find little need to eat anything else.

“As a South African steeped in the culture of Ubuntu, I am a chef who believes in greeting each customer and ensuring their food is of the best quality. It is ingrained in me to do everything to the best of my ability the first time around, and keep the momentum, and I hope our diners at Sibaya will enjoy the meals we present to them.”

EASTER RECIPE: Raspberry Cinnamon Brioche Cake

With love from Sibaya Casino’s Executive Sous Chef Zakhele Ndlozi

Prep: 1 hr Proofing: 2 hrs Cooking: 30 min Servings: 10 slices



300g Flour

4g Yeast

1g Salt

40g Castor Sugar

15g Milk Powder

150ml Milk

100g Butter (room temperature)

3 Egg Yolks


1 Egg

2 Tsp Milk


200g Fresh Raspberries (crushed)

250g Mascarpone (room temperature)

50g Icing Sugar

5g Vanilla Essence

350ml Thick Cream

80g White Chocolate (chopped)


5g Cinnamon

5g Corn Starch

50g Sugar

200g Water


50g Fresh Raspberries

White Chocolate


To activate the yeast, combine the castor sugar and lukewarm milk in a bowl and leave aside for a few minutes. When the top becomes frothy, incorporate the beaten egg yolks into the mixture.

In the mixer, add flour, milk powder, and salt, then add the wet ingredients and mix for 10 minutes until a very wet soft dough forms. Then mix in the melted butter in intervals until completely combined, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a buttered bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let it rise in a warm location until it has doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes.


When preparing baked goods humidity plays a role in the product you are baking. You may need to use more milk in the highveld instead of the coast.


In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn flour, cinnamon, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce becomes clear rather than cloudy. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.

After the dough has risen, transfer it onto a lightly floured countertop. Roll it out to a thickness of 2cm, with dimensions of 35cm by 20cm, and shape it into a cylinder.

Utilizing either string or, amusingly, dental floss, slice the cylinder into disks measuring 5cm each. Grease a cake tin lightly with butter and arrange the dough pieces inside, allowing them to rise for a second time, approximately 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 165°C, then brush the dough with a mixture of egg and milk. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Use a skewer as a cake tester. Insert it into the centre of the brioche, it should come out clean, then your brioche is cooked.

CHEFS NOTE: Each oven has different temperature settings, so after 35 minutes check your brioche using the skewer.


While the brioche is baking in the oven, whip cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Incorporate the softened mascarpone, icing sugar, and vanilla essence, whisking until stiff peaks form. In a bowl, crush the raspberries with a fork. Then, gently fold in the crushed raspberries and half of the cinnamon sauce to create beautiful swirls and set the mixture aside.

To finish, once the brioche has cooled, slice it into three layers. Spread one-third of the cream filling onto each layer, stacking them up, and finishing with the top layer. Garnish with raspberries and chocolate, then drizzle with cinnamon sauce.

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Finally, share this delicious treat with your loved ones.