Wandile Mabaso.
Wandile Mabaso.
Image: Supplied

With a new restaurant, LES Creatifs, which recently opened in Joburg, Mabaso is the culinary man of the moment. The talented young chef, who worked in top kitchens overseas for years, returned home to create his own brand of magic — a local spin on classic French flair in the City of Gold. We can attest to his food being delicious, surprising, and hugely enjoyable. He spoke to us about what gets him going, on and off the plate.

Your food icon? There are many that I have have worked with; I will have to give the shared title to my two mentors and great chefs, Alain Ducasse and Olivier Reginensi.

Essential grooming balms and potions? I don’t really get much time for that but after cooking for long hours, Nivea lotion is best for the hands.

Fave cologne? Tuxedo from Yves Saint Laurent.

The building everyone should visit before they die? The cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. I used to stare at it almost every day for creative inspiration.

Essential tech? My cellphone — it’s my PA.

Drink of choice? Shiraz, preferably from Napa Valley.

All-time favourite place to eat out? Chinese Northern Foods in Rivonia. I always order the handmade pork or beef noodle soup.

One item of clothing you bought, instantly loved, and still have in your wardrobe years later? My baby blue Timberland boots, but they are so worn out now.

If money was no object, your dream kitchen item? Fortunately, I’ve recently built my dream kitchen. When you see it you’ll understand.

Reading at the moment? The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

Listening to? 2Pac’s iconic Me Against the World album.

Series you’ve been bingeing on recently? The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.

Are you a collector of anything? I usually collect chefs’ knives from Japan. When I start making the big bucks I need to collect art.

What makes you happiest? Cooking.

Last travel destination you visited that knocked your socks off? Cognac in France. It’s amazing how all the buildings there have turned a Gothic-like charcoal colour due to centuries of cognac fumes. The town also has this beautiful background scent of cognac everywhere you go.

Dream dinner party guests? Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela, Michael Jackson, LeBron James, Salvador Dali, and Kanye West.

First thing you add to your grocery cart? Garlic.

What inspires you? I get inspiration from nature and everything around me.

Your top city in the world? New York City. I lived and worked there for five years. It’s an incredibly tough city to build a career in but it prepares you for anything later in life. 

From the August edition of Wanted 2019.

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