Idols SA judge Somizi Mhlongo delighted his food-loving fans this week when announced on Instagram that his long-awaited cooking show will finally be hitting our screens.
Called Dinner at Somizi’s, it’ll premiere on DStv’s 1 Magic on July 10, and will feature the quirky media personality cooking and chatting with a host of A-list guests.
We asked Somizi to dish about what — and who — he’ll be bringing to the table as he officially turns celeb chef:
Where does your love of cooking come from?
It comes from my childhood. I grew up in a large, large family. I lived with my aunts, my uncles, my granny, my mother, my father, my siblings, my cousins — it was like 24 of us and the stove was always on. But more than anything, my dad was the main cook for the entire family. He had the pizazz and he made it look fun and very entertaining.
What about Dinner at Somizi’s are you most excited about?
What I’m most excited about is that I finally have a cooking show! I’ve always wanted to have a cooking show, but more than anything when my fans asked [me to do one], it gave me more confidence.
I watch a lot of cooking shows and I always see a gap for what I would be bringing [to the table] that has never been done before.
What kind of food will you be cooking?
I’ll be cooking anything that I can cook. I am not going to cook things that I’ve done before. Although I’m very experimental and I like to try new things, I try new things when I’m confident that they’ll come out great.
I’m very creative so I am going to cook mostly the foods that I grew up eating but with a twist and, also, I can afford to add whatever [ingredients] I want to add.
What guests can we look forward to seeing on the show?
The guest list is very interesting. It’s people that I have personal relationships with — [I’m not just featuring them] because they are famous.
It is the “creamiest” of the crop — there’s everyone from Siya Kolisi to Zozibini Tunzi to Casper Nyovest to Lerato Kganyago — but they are my friends, so [it won’t be like watching] an interview, [it’ll be like watching me have] a conversation with my guests.
What’s your favourite food to eat?
Anything that is soul food. Hearty lamb shanks, chicken feet, tripe, samp — anything that is cooked with love.
How do your travels influence your cooking skills and interests?
They influence my cooking in a big way in that I come home and [make the dishes I’ve tasted] my own way, especially the cocktails. I make cocktails on the show as well and they are influenced by the drinks that I enjoy overseas.
The way I love to spice my food is influenced by my travels too — from making risotto to how I make my samp.
Does your husband Mohale enjoy cooking as well? If so, what is his favourite dish to cook for you?
Yes, my husband does enjoy cooking — even though he doesn’t cook as much [as I do]. He enjoys cooking anything that would be put in the oven for the longest time, like lamb knuckles or beef stew.
What is your response to criticism that has been levelled Dinner at Somizi’s, including the fact that you aren’t a trained chef?
People have the right to express their own opinions. However, I’m not here to please people or dim my light because it’s too bright for someone else.
I am used to people criticising me before they even see what I am about to deliver. For example, when I was first announced as a judge on Idols SA, people were up in arms, saying I know nothing about music and boom — I can do Idols.
And when I released a book, people were saying, but what do I know about writing a book? And it became the most successful memoir in SA.
My reality show is an award-winning show and it was criticised in the beginning.
So I’m used to it and [I believe you should] judge me after you see what I deliver — not before. [Critics] also have no clue what the format of the show is, so I’m going to let them roll on the floor until they see what it is and then they will understand that it can only be Somizi that does this show.
• Dinner at Somizi’s will premiere on July 10 at 7pm on DStv 1 Magic (channel 103).
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