Cooking Is His Middle Name: Getting To Know Chef Linda

We all have that Chef that knows how to make your taste buds go absolutely barmy or rather have you begging for more! I had the opportunity to interview the man of the exquisite dishes behind ‘Fashionable Food Friday’. Knowing that his industry is a bit complex, I just had to find out what made him prevail.


Who is Linda? A brief background would do – Linda Mkhize is a Chef (aged 27) born 4th of January 1989, from Durban. Born and raised there by his grandmother MaNdlovu (Mrs Mkhize). I lived and  studied in Yellowwood Park primary school, then High school in New Forest High school. I am the only child between my mother and father. A person that used to play sport, I played rugby and did athletics for KZN. I was raised in a family of teachers and church strong people. A go-getter, loving  and lover of the finer things in life, I live to be a success. Now, based in Johannesburg, I am yet to conquer the industry of cooking! 


When did you start your first business? I started my first business at the age of 16 where I would bake cakes and sell them at school during break time and that was a great success where students and teachers would support me. I then had the opportunity to meet Sophie Ndaba at my uncle’s wedding, where I had the opportunity to know her on a personal capacity and learn more from her. I then took it further and did events planning and coordination inspired by Sophie Ndaba (Queen from Generations).


When was the biggest event that you did? It was when I did my first wedding in 2008 in springs, then more weddings came after that. I moved to Johannesburg and pursued the business.


Which fields are you in currently and who have you worked/work with? I am now in events planning and catering privately and a private chef for a family also.  I have worked with many celebs with events. I had the opportunity to prepare and present food to the likes of Maps Maponyane, Khuli Chana, Didi, YFM Djs, ANC official events etc. I do private functions, family dinners, braais, weddings and more. I work with FTV in Johannesburg with my boss Sipho Masebe (C-ga Bopha) , Valentino Nhlangothi from HQ water in KZN Durban,  Ashanti’s Events with Zakhele, Ciroc in Johannesburg with Elvis where we are partners in events creation. I am am in process of owning my own restaurant in Cresta.


What inspires you about the food that you create? Everyday life, the lifestyle we live, it’s fast and we are always on the go. So I create and make food that’s easy to make, healthy and nutritious for all ages.


What most do you specialize in? I mostly specialise in your lunches and dinners.


In terms of cooking, what is your most complex dish that you have prepared? To be honest, it has to be Seafood.


What inspired you to become a chef? I‘d like to believe that I have always had it in me, I would cook with my grandma, my aunts and where ever you would find a pot or a stove even a fire, you’d find me there helping and doing something. So cooking has always been in me. You would find my cousin playing soccer and playstation and I would be in the kitchen preparing food. I just took it further and studied for it.


The challenges of being a chef? Challenges of being a chef, well there is not that much apart from being  creative, learn more, make your own recipes play with spices and ingredients.


What makes the cooking industry so discrepant from everything else? The cooking industry is fun! It gives you the opportunity to be creative and with cooking, you always learn something new everyday of your life and obviously, with cooking there is never a dull moment. The best phrase to use as a Chef is: “A happy chef, produces great food” 


Who is your favourite chef and why? [Chef Linda – giggles] Wow, ok well my favourite chef would be my Chef Dede White, he is a great chef and has taught me a lot. He has given me the greatest opportunities to work with many well-known people. He is my “Gordan Ramsay” in South Africa. 


What advice can you give to aspiring individuals that also want to become chefs? Go for it, it takes time to get to the top but take it one day at a time, grab every opportunity and work smart. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with food. Always give yourself time to learn more about food and accept criticism and learn from it. Being a chef is a demanding job but once you get the hang of it, its fun.


‘Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it’s too assertive to the naked eye – Gordon Ramsay’ 


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