Teen dreamer goes from granny’s kitchen to the nation’s TVs

2012-03-23 00:00

CAPE TOWN — He wept, he fell to his knees and thanked God when he was put through to the second round on Masterchef SA on Tuesday night.

At just 18, Luxolo Tabata of Worcester in the Western Cape was the youngest contestant and provided the most emotional moment of the show. From the age of five he has followed his grandmother around, watching her in the kitchen at every opportunity.

At 10 he put his first meal of pap and meat in front of his family.

Now the whole of South Africa can follow the young dishwasher’s progress on the cooking talent show.

He told our sister paper Die Burger about his career as a cook so far.

“The first time I made pap it was a disaster! It was all lumpy.”

His granny, Tabita Tabata (52), remembers the day well. “I wouldn’t eat the pap. I sent him back into the kitchen and showed him how to make it properly.”

Lux, as he is called by his family, never made lumpy pap again.

“He was such a pest! He was always in the kitchen, watching the stove to see what I was cooking,” she said.

His granny taught him to cook, but Lux said she isn’t his only inspiration. Cape star Reuben Riffel and Gordon Ramsay are two of his heroes. “My dream is to cook for those two chefs!”

He said he enjoyed cooking Italian and Chinese food, and making sushi.

At 15, Lux left school and went to work at the Mill and Oaks restaurant at Worcester as a dishwasher. “The head chef, Gerard Creamer, saw I liked cooking and started to train me,” he said.

Tabata said her grandson had a hard time growing up, living with her from a young age and only returning to his own mother at 14.

Now Lux is working as a junior chef at Golden Valley casino, where restaurant manager Tony Smith took him on after seeing his CV.

One of his colleagues, Sonella Price, said Lux is very ready to learn and experiment. “He’s a nice kid,” she said.

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