My name is Linda Nirina Rojohasina Mazibuko, I was born in Madagascar and reside in South Africa. My mother is Malagache (Betsileo) and my father is South African (Zulu). I started school in Madagascar and arrived in South Africa in 1997 and went to Observatory East Primary School. Being French speaking it was difficult to adapt but I managed because I kept pushing to learn how to speak and write English. I completed my matric at Queens High School in 2008.
My love for the Arts started when I was a toddler, I fell in love with French literature at age 3 or 4 my mom told me I was always so consumed by books. I was also very obsessed with music because my grandfather (Raindimby) was a famous musician in Madagascar, I was told that I always followed him around. And lastly my love for culinary arts started in the gardens and fields of Madagascar where we would hunt for locusts to eat with traditional vary amini hanana (rice with spinach). This love grew over time as I watched my mother chop and create all sorts of delicacies in the kitchen. I longed to be just like her, creative and meticulous.
I was trained at a private college in Randburg, Johannesburg called HTA School of Culinary Arts in 2011, this is because I went to Wits University after High School. I was always quirky and outspoken but I did really well at Chef school in both theory and practicals. I always maintained to be among the top 10 spot in my class. They always told me that I wouldn’t make it as a chef because of my crazy and funky hairstyles. My dad also began to struggle with paying my fees because his business went through a very rough patch during my two years at chef school. By the grace of God, I managed to make it through and finished strong. I graduated in 2013. During school I was fortunate enough to have trained in 5 star establishments such as Horn & Phillips (Catering), Pick n Pay on William Nicol (Retail), Thyme on Nicol, Palazzo Hotel (Restaurant) and The Saxon Boutique Hotel (Hotel), which was by far my favourite because I was trained by Chef David Higgs, a South African legend. He taught me the art of flavour combinations and fusions using molecular gastronomy. I entered a boerewors competition in chef school with a team of 4 and we came second place. In 2015 I was selected to go and work at the Kempinski Hotel in Qatar, Doha. I worked under chef Virnon and chef Manu, that is where I reached my breaking point as a chef because I learned how to be strong and resilient. I mastered the cold kitchen as well as a few traditional middle eastern dishes. I also learned a lot about pastry during my time in Doha. Chef Manu taught me the art of styling and plating. In 2016 I was also selected to be a contestant on Top Chef South Africa out of 104 chefs. I finished 7th place overall. I then went into food styling and styled the adverts for Whirlpool South Africa Sixth Sense Range in 2016. This year I will be working with another brand as their ambassador which I will mention in due time.
As a chef, I describe myself as bold and creative. This is because I love exploring new cultures, their lifestyles and their flavours. I am not afraid to reinvent the traditional ways of cooking and I am always ready to learn and experience new avenues in the arts.
I truly believe that African Cuisine is the next frontier in the culinary world so my vision for African Gastronomy is for it to infiltrate the culinary scene. It’s about time that the world begins to recognise what we are able to do, it’s about time that our African chefs young and old are credited for their hard work. I also see myself as a pioneer in being able to empower Africans in the culinary world. I would love to develop systems that educate people in farming and agriculture, I want to develop curriculums that enable chefs to study up to PhD levels. This is my ultimate goal, but I still have a very long way to go but I’m so glad that the journey has begun.
Chefs who inspire me are Chef Alain Passard, Chef Lentswe Bhengu, Chef David Higgs and more recently Chef Dieuveil Malonga to name a few. They have changed the game in the culinary world and are continuing in their paths.
I will contribute to globalising African Gastronomy by conquering on my home ground first. I am going to explore all 11 South African tribes and their lifestyle and culinary traditions and then turn their meals into gourmet dishes fit for 5 star establishments. I would like to turn this into an educational reality show to create a wider reach and gain awareness. I am currently in the research phase of this venture that is why I am so interested in joining Chefs in Africa. My next step was going into Africa itself to learn more about the people and their culinary traditions in the land.