Fairview chef cooks up a prize! | iinfo TZANEEN

Brenda Lubbe-Venter (23) used to eagerly help her mom in the kitchen as little girl. On the other side of the window between the kitchen and the veranda, she would set up her dolls in a row to watch the activity in the kitchen. This was her first audience – and a prophetic one, as she has lived to sea that dream come true.
At the recent Queen of the Kitchen competition at Klein Kariba near Bela Bela, she emerged third overall and the winner in the entrepreneur section. She and her assistant, Mr George Venter, also were awarded the prize for the most helpful team.
There were at first 60 participating teams of two each, which were narrowed down to 15 and then there were three. Brenda did not only herself proud, but also Fairview Hotel, where she works as chief chef. Her prizes include a cash prize, a Snappy Chef stove plate and a large clock, which will help her to keep one eye on the stove and the other on the time!
It was a long and winding road to where she is today. Her first job was a Scooter's Pizza in Polokwane where, as 16-year-old, she delivered pizzas with her own scooter. In the mornings she attended school and after hours kept pizza lovers happy. During weekends she waitressed at Maropa Casino in Polokwane.
When an opportunity popped up in Port Elizabeth, the wind blew her that way. Here she cleaned and ironed, while the kitchen kept calling her. She was 'promoted' to scullery, but at last she could dry her hands and get them busy with portioning food and preparation.
The next detour in her road of life was Polokwane's Cape Town Fish Market where she was a sushi chef. Six months later she was off to the bush – Korongwe luxury game lodge and farm, where she learned the tricks of an executive chef. Although she sojourned here for two and a half years, five months of this time were unpaid, gleaning valuable experience.
The next endeavour was her own catering business, Bel Quality Foods. One of the functions got her in touch with Ms Marinda Thomas of Fairview Hotel in Tzaneen. She prepared the food for the wine route at Fairview's Taste of Tzaneen Fest in 2015. Ms Thomas was so pleased with her work, that this was her gateway to the job she still holds.
As executive chef she trains other chefs at Fairview in gourmet cooking. She has been working as chief chef and manager over everything connected to the hotel's cuisine: finances, orders, management etc.
The competition presented its own challenges with one main sponsor's shop burning down. Another sponsor pulled out upon which another supermarket franchise was approached to save the day. This resulted in a frenzied trolley-rush and fresh opportunities to improvise. The adjudicators of the competition were Poppie from the TV culinary show, Kokkedoor, Ms Ingrid Johnson, a famous chef herself, and the manager of VKB, the main sponsor. Brenda has a dream to have her own chef training centre, using home-grown products.

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