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Ministers laud chefs


Mohalenyane Phakela

The Education and Culture ministries have lauded the Lesotho Chefs Association (LCA) for their patriotism and dedication which has seen them put the country’s culinary arts on the world map even without government assistance.

They also pledged to assist the LCSA in its initiatives.

Ministers, Mokhele Moletsane (Education) and Mamotsie Motsie (Environment and culture) said this during a recent  meeting in Maseru with the LCA President, Chef Donald Moletsane and the association’s consulting chef Francois Delport from South Africa.

The meeting was held to discuss challenges faced by the LCA in its endeavours to develop the culinary sector to match international standards and boost job creation and economic development in the country.

LCA will take part in the African Food Festival from 28 to 31 August in Pretoria, South Africa.

Addressing the ministers, Chef Moletsane said that Lesotho has been part of the African Food Festival since 2014 but has only been sending students from his school (Dona@Balos Chef and Hospitality School) instead of the complement of students from different schools due to financial constraints.

“At these competitions, every country is expected to prepare its traditional cuisine the modern way thus exposing its culture to other nations,” Chef Moletsane said.

“Although we have always performed well, we do not find it fair that Lesotho has only been represented by Dona@Balos students because I have been financing everything from my own pocket. At times we would borrow money from Chef Francois and he has threatened to leave us due on several occasions because we are heavily dependent on him.

“It is in this context that we plead with your ministries to assist us so that together we can be able to put our cuisine on the international map while promoting culinary arts in the country.”

Chef Delport, who is also acting as Chef Donald’s deputy, said he was committed to ensuring LCA was on par with South African Chefs Association.

“The South African Chefs Association has been active for the past 40 years and done well in various international competitions where its chefs are regarded as some of the best in the world. That is what we want to do with Basotho chefs.

“International competitions do not only give exposure but they also offer chefs the opportunity to learn from others and in this field we learn every day.

“The intention is to promote Lesotho’s culinary arts through an establishment of a cooking library to give local chefs access to different food information as well as host workshops in different parts of this country to train people. Like any other sport, we also have culinary Olympics which Basotho should also be part of but they cannot go there unless they are qualified,” he said.

For their part, the ministers promised to assist although they did not make any firm commitments.

Ms Motsie praised Chef Donald for his commitment, saying it was only proper for government to support his efforts.

“There is nothing that forced you to dedicate so much effort in promoting cuisine in this country and I believe with your expertise you should be working overseas earning real money.

“I admire your spirit of patriotism and the strides you made to promote the country without any financial or assistance of any sort. I feel obliged to work with you and it will not be long till we see results,” she said.

For his part, Mr Moletsane said the culinary arts were key in the fight against poverty.

“Culinary arts are capable of creating more jobs as people do not have to wait to be employed but they can be entrepreneurs.

“We have seen what you are doing and we regard this as one of the things we should invest in and we have to fully support this drive in partnership with tourism and we will do our best to support LCA,” he said.

Meanwhile the team of seven students who will be heading to the African Food Festival also prepared a three course meal to give the dignitaries a glimpse of what they are capable of.

The starters consisted of Mount Maluti peri peri chicken livers with homemade bread (sephaphatha) accompanied by salsa sauce garnished with rocket leaves.

The main course was lamb and assorted lentils terrine with herbal mince served with a combination of pap, spinach and butternut (potele) accompanied by a red wine reduction and coriander garnish.

The dessert consisted of a carrot cake with white chocolate glaze served with cinnamon custard.

The ministries hailed the traditional food and those from the tourism sector even asked for the dish to be served at the Culture and Innovation Week celebrations in October this year.

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