Umzingwane woman ecstatic as her dishes come tops at cook-out showcase

19 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Umzingwane woman ecstatic as her dishes come tops at cook-out showcase Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Barbara Rwodzi chats with Ms Buhlebenkosi Nkala (who won the contest) during a Matabeleland South Provincial Traditional Cook-out competition in Makhado

The Sunday News

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief

IT was all tears of joy for 30-year-old Buhlebenkosi Nkala from Umzingwane District when she came first in the Matabeleland South Provincial traditional cook-cut competition community category.

Ms Nkala who was one of the 21 contestants swept the judges off their feet with her menu which had about 40 dishes and beverages.

Having grown up in the rural areas, Ms Nkala said she was raised eating traditional foods and its importance was inculcated in her at a tender age.

Her menu was divided into 10 categories namely starters, starches, proteins, game meat, vegetables, beverages, dessert, traditional herbs, spreads and usavi powders.

On her menu were okra bites, gizzards, kebabs, sweet potato fries, creamy samp, madumbe chips, goat sausages, isikhupha, cinnamon pumpkin, umqombothi, ulaza, mnyi iced tea, water melon cocktail, sweet potato cake, pumpkin pie, sorghum pancakes, umviyo jam, water melon jam among other dishes.

The cook-out competition is a concept introduced by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in 2019. Since then, the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry has been tasked to co-ordinate the implementation of the programme together with provinces and other ministries.

The 2024 traditional cook-out competitions will see participants compete in three categories namely students in tourism or culinary programmes, professional chefs and the community.

Community members from all seven districts in the province showcased their traditional meals at an event that was held in Makhado.

The winners are set to represent the province at the national competition set to be held from 24 to 25 May in Manicaland Province.

The event will be held ahead of the United Nations Gastronomy Conference set for Victoria Falls in July this year.
Ms Nkala said in preparing her dishes, she aimed to find the most presentable and innovative way to prepare her food.

“I’m not a professional chef but I just love cooking. I grew up in the rural areas where we were eating traditional food. This exposure helped to open my eyes to the benefits of various kinds of traditional foods. I also did further research to learn more about the food and which ingredients I could mix. I also made sure that I presented and prepared my food in an appetising manner while preserving the nutrients.

“I also tried to find new ways of preparing the food which we are not used to. Some people especially youngsters don’t like traditional foods but there are ways of preparing them in a manner that can satisfy all age groups and promote health. I’m glad that I excelled and I look forward to representing my province well in the national competition,” she said.

Speaking during the event, the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Barbara Rwodzi, said one of President Mnangagwa’s development strategies is to grow the economy of the country through heritage. She said the country’s local tourism, if properly utilised, could be a reliable economic booster.

Minister Rwodzi encouraged the production of indigenous crops and foods.

“When we talk of our heritage as our economic driver, we are talking about mining, agriculture and tourism. We have to utilise our traditional cuisines, dams and tourist sites in order to grow our economy. Under tourism, we have to establish state-of-the-art restaurants and lodges which will serve well-prepared traditional foods.

“Let’s prepare our own recipes using our own locally available ingredients to our level best. That way we will stand out as a nation and attract visitors. At the same time, our people will be assured of a source of livelihood leading to the realisation of Vision 2030,” she said.

Minister Rwodzi said in order to achieve this, the value chain of traditional food has to be strengthened from the production level at the fields.

Ms Buhlebenkosi Nkala showcases her dishes during a Matabeleland South Provincial traditional cook-out competition in Makhado

She said the community has a role to play in producing these traditional foods which will be processed by the industry and marketed by the tourism sector.

“Our President came up with Vision 2030 which seeks to ensure that everyone is taken out of poverty using locally available resources. Our mother the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa introduced the cook-out competition as part of efforts to achieve this vision. We thank her for this empowerment drive which seeks to embrace our culture and heritage,” she said.

In a speech read on her behalf by Matabeleland South director for infrastructure, planning and environmental management in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Engineer Daniel Njowa, Minister of State for Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu said the National Development Strategy 1 identifies tourism as one of the anchors underpinning economic revival.

She urged communities to support the traditional cook-out competition which has been devolved to accommodate everyone, including remote parts of the country.

Dr Ndlovu said food cultural tourism is one of the strategies for developing the province’s economy. – @DubeMatutu

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