Search for winning baker

Melicia Hosking, a participant on ‘The Taste Master SA’.

Melicia Hosking, a participant on ‘The Taste Master SA’.

Published Apr 28, 2024


Durban — Creativity, flavour and picture-perfect bakes are what judges are looking for in the Taste Master SA kitchen as contestants try to wow them with their baking skills.

The reality baking show began this week, with 14 contestants battling it out to impress the judges Zola Nene, a celebrity chef and author, and artisanal baker Fritz Schoon.

The show began on Tuesday and airs at 7pm on SABC2. It repeats on Wednesdays at 1pm and Sundays at 4pm. It is a 13-episode series and the finale will air on July 16.

In Season 5, contestants are competing for the grand prize which includes R150 000, R100 000 to spend with Samsung, R100 000 in kitchen aid equipment and a Blast Chiller valued at R65 000. In addition, contestants will be rewarded for winning certain weekly challenges with a variety of Samsung products and appliances, including a Galaxy Watch 6, a Bespoke fridge and a Bespoke microwave.

Among the contestants this season are Phumla Zakwe and Melicia Hosking. Zakwe said she entered in order to get exposure and learn what it is like to cook in front of the cameras.

“I learnt on the show. Every masterclass was amazing. You never stop learning new tips and tricks every day. There was the dynamics of working in pairs and learning to say, ‘no, let’s do this my way,’ or agreeing to their method.

“I felt ashamed by our first bake because I knew it was not my best work. I had never baked a cake and it flopped like that. I thought, what would the people I know say?" said Zakwe.

Phumla Zakwe, a participant on ‘The Taste Master SA.

Zakwe, 22, from Estcourt in northern KwaZulu-Natal, is a head chef at a lodge in Dundee.

She said at school she studied consumer studies and pursued studies in the culinary industry at Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine.

“I loved cooking in high school and I used to watch a lot of cooking shows on Food Network and was inspired by chef Siba. I now love being in the industry. I get to experiment with new recipes and try to make changes,” said Zakwe.

Hosking, a lecturer in hospitality at the College of Cape Town, said she always needed something else while lecturing.

“I teach aspiring chefs. And having always been in a kitchen environment, I always want to do something more than lecturing. When I came across (the competition), I entered for a bit of change and to challenge myself personally and inspire my students.

“The experience thus far is amazing and the challenges are intense. I learnt that I am a troubleshooter and problem solver. I came to make things happen in a very short space of time.

“The production is of such a high level. I learnt that things can’t just look good, it has to taste very good and the flavour is of paramount importance,” said Hosking.

She said in her first challenge, with just 15 minutes left, they did not have a cake but eventually managed to ice and decorate a very hot cake.

“Unfortunately, we ended up in the elimination challenge. That taught us to up our game. I think the experience alone would reinforce my abilities and if I won the title, it would hopefully catapult me into new areas of my field and allow me to explore some new territories,” she said.

Phumla Zakwe, a participant on ‘The Taste Master SA.

Hosking, 38, formerly from Overport in Durban and now living in Cape Town, said she initially studied law for a year as her parents were not keen on her getting into the chef industry.

“I deregistered and went to DUT’s Hotel School and worked predominantly as a pastry chef for 10 years at the One & Only Hotel, Mount Nelson and Taj Hotel.”

Hosking said she started experimenting in the kitchen at the age of 10 and made her own pasta.

“I was always interested in cooking and never thought of it as a career option,” she said.

She said her mom, Lorraine Naicker, was very passionate about cooking and inspired her.

“She didn’t just cook curries for us when we were growing up but tried different recipes. I enjoy my mom’s cooking more than mine. I love Indian food," said Hosking.

Sunday Tribune