/ 22 December 2022

The Lazy Makoti creator bags her third Gourmand World Cookbook Award

Lazy Makoti Cover V13 Front(1)
Cooking sensation: Mogau Seshoene has received numerous awards for her ‘Lazy Makoti’ brand and believes in making her recipes easy to follow, to create ‘a positive experience for people’. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht

What started out as cooking lessons for a friend afraid of being called “The Lazy Makoti” (translated as “The Lazy Wife”) because she could not cook, has developed into not only a brand but a platform founded by chef Mogau Seshoene

Seshoene’s culinary professional journey started with her diploma in culinary arts from the Chefs Training and Innovation Academy, and resulted in the completion of her training under Chef Werner at The Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg. Before venturing into entrepreneurship with her brand, The Lazy Makoti, Seshoene was working a corporate nine-to-five job that she left in 2014. 

What really catapulted her career was her social media presence, mainly on Instagram, where she shares her recipes with thousands of followers. The chef, who is driven by a desire to share recipes that speak to local cuisine, has been a host on a season of Cooks For Life, a television series where she shows how to prepare South African and African traditional food in a healthier way. 

Some of her notable achievements include: being a Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South African in 2015, a Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Stout in the US in 2016, the Forbes Africa 30 under 30s list in 2016 and a Gourmand World Cookbook award recipient, which she won for the third time this year for her cookbook, Hosting with The Lazy Makoti

“What an incredible honour to see this passion project being awarded such incredible recognition. It truly is my greatest dream come true to be counted among the very best in my craft. It’s incredible validation for all the work that goes into creating a cookbook,” says Seshoene.

“From research and development to testing the recipes to writing and editing manuscripts to preparing; the styling of the photographs and designing the book layout and final proofs that culminate in the book going to print. It’s such a process and the only way to do it right is to pour yourself into it wholeheartedly.” 

The 33-year-old says her journey into the culinary industry has been passion-driven and with a lot of intentionality. Some of the lessons she’s learnt while establishing her business was to be brave, even in the midst of fear and staying true to yourself in whatever you do. 

“Even in the face of that fear to find the little part of me that is brave enough to pursue even the impossible dreams. That authenticity is key. While it’s good to be inspired by others, ultimately the world is missing your unique voice,” she says.

“Life continues to validate and reward my belief and desire to centre our own food in my work. A great team makes all the difference. I had an incredible team who helped put together this book: my management, publisher, food stylist and photographer, designer and many others.” 

Written mostly during lockdown, Seshoene’s second cookbook Hosting With The Lazy Makoti, was inspired by a desire for people to be able to come together again for any occasion, small or big. 

“Whether you are cooking for two or 10, there’s a recipe you will love. I included vegan and celebration chapters with recipes to celebrate birthdays, Easter and Christmas. 

“I always want my books to be real value-for-money with recipes you will make again and again featuring ingredients that you recognise, that are simple and probably already in your fridge or pantry,” she says. 

When asked what she believes has been the secret to her success thus far, the Limpopo-born chef says: “At the heart of everything I do is a love for our people and our stories and our unique food. Food of our heritage, our ingredients and how we put together even what may be borrowed from other cultures.

“I write and develop from that perspective. Often most imported cookbooks don’t necessarily speak to or centre our unique palate and I try to do that,” says Seshoene. 

Her philosophy when it comes to her cookbooks is paying attention to detail, which Seshoene does through understanding her audience, but also in making the recipes easy to follow, with the aim of creating a positive cooking experience for people.  

“The devil is in the detail, for example, even the way I choose to write the recipes is with my audience in mind. My choice of unit of measurement is spoons, cups and millilitres for the benefit of my audience, who in most cases do not own a kitchen scale … If you can’t measure your flour with a scale then you can’t use the recipe, creating yet another barrier. I want to not only centre representation but also accessibility and inclusion,” she says.

The entrepreneur describes her cookbooks as “love letters to her audience”, carefully curated in a way that makes a person feel as though they have a friend assisting them. 

“So much love and warmth is shared through food and I’d love for the cookbooks to be your trusted companion, to help you navigate the kitchen and make it easier and more enjoyable and accessible,” says Seshoene. 

She recently collaborated with food and clothing retailer Woolworths to offer customers a steam-bread pot and a ginger-beer scone kit. 

The reaction has made the chef emotional: “I could cry! The response has been amazing. More than I could imagine. I wanted to create products that speak to the South African. And what’s more iconic than dombolo, ujeqe and ginger beer and scones.  

“The kits are ready made products where you add one or two products to create these beloved recipes and they are fail-proof. 

“It’s been such a moment of pride to see people getting into a Woolworths and buying products that speak to their own cultures and celebrate local heritage. This festive everyone will nail the dombolo, that’s a promise.” 

For Seshoene, South Africa’s food culture and flavours are diverse and consist of various textures, meals and tastes — there isn’t just one which in itself describes the various cultures of the country. 

“It’s hard to describe our flavour profile. It’s somewhere between the braai smoky taste of meat on the coal, to the stewed flavour of meat and vegetables to Cape Malay curries and the chakalaka, braai chicken the pap and amasi and the fermented sorghum and creamy Amarula, and the Sunday seven colours plates. It’s all these things, but unmistakably South African,” she says. 

As South Africans gear up for the end of the year festivities — usually filled with plenty of food and drinks — The Lazy Makoti creator says what she’s choosing to serve at her table this year will be “uncomplicated, delicious and satisfying.” 

Her menu will include gammon, oxtail and bean stew, perfect roast chicken, dombolo/ujeqe, rainbow sorghum salad, garlic butternut, green veg medley, malva pudding and homemade custard, lemon and thyme cake as well as a berry trifle. 

And the chef’s top three most under-rated kitchen utensils include measuring spoons  and cups, a great knife and a handmixer, which she explains is “compact, inexpensive and gets the work done”. 

For her, cooking is a science and so it’s vital for everything to be measured in the right quantities. 

Seshoene expresses that she is looking forward to seeing more of her collaboration with Woolworths hit the shelves soon. 

“I’m excited for the rest of my range, The Lazy Makoti home x Woolworths range, to hit the shelves. I’m excited for people to walk in the store and buy the apron and bowls and measuring cups from my range. And I’m excited to see how it will continue to unfold and grow.” 

As a treat, here are some drink recipes that The Lazy Makoti says will make the festive season jolly. 

Cooking sensation: Mogau Seshoene has received numerous awards for her ‘Lazy Makoti’ brand and believes in making her recipes easy to follow, to create ‘a positive experience for people’. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht

Recipe: Spiked strawberry lemonade cocktail

Ingredients: Simple syrup : 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup water

Cocktail: 1 pint fresh strawberries, stems removed. Leave 2 or 3 for garnish, Few sprigs mint, juice of 3 lemons , 4 cups water, 1 1/2 cups vodka

Method: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool, about 30 minutes. Puree strawberries and mint leaves together in a blender or food processor. Combine the simple syrup, strawberry-mint puree, lemon juice, water, and vodka in a jug. Stir to combine. Fill glasses with ice and pour in the lemonade. Garnish with strawberries and some more fresh mint, if desired.

Recipe: Espresso martini that serves one

Ingredients: 30ml vodka,  60ml Amarula Ethiopian coffee liqueur, 30ml espresso freshly brewed, 15ml simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heat to dissolve sugar and cool), coffee beans for garnish. 

Method: Brew the coffee and let it cool completely. Add ice to a cocktail shaker then add the cooled coffee, simple syrup, Amarula Ethiopian coffee and vodka. Shake very hard so the foam is formed then strain it quickly into a martini glass. Top with coffee beans, serve. Alcohol content as per your discretion, use more or less according to your own tolerance. 

Recipe: Frozen margarita 

Ingredients: 3/4 cup tequila, 1/2 cup orange liqueur, 3/4 cup  fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), 4 cups ice, or more to taste, salt and finely chopped mint to rim glass. 

Method: You will need to place the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. If you want a thicker frozen margarita, add more ice. Serve margarita in a salt and mint-rimmed glass with a fresh lime wedge. 

Hosting With The Lazy Makoti retails for R349 and is available on her thelazymakoti.com, selected Woolworths and Takealot stores. 

Giveaway time!

To stand a chance to win one of three signed copies of Hosting With The Lazy Makoti make sure you are following Chef Mogau Seshoene’s instagram @thelazymakoti and  Mail & Guardian Friday page on instagram @mailandguardian_friday. Tag three of your friends in the comments section under the competition post on Friday’s page and repost the competition on your story. It’s that simple!

Competition closes Friday 30 December 2022. Winners will be announced in early January so stay glued M&G Friday, remember Friday is a feeling! Happy holidays!