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It was a keen eye for style that led Nti Ramaboa’s early career, founding her own fashion label and opening three retail stores. Then a change of heart; she returned to a passion for food that she nurtured in her youth and headed to culinary school. Here we take a look at her new space, Taste Kitchen, in Joburg’s Maboneng.
Was there a moment that inspired your switch from fashion to food?
"When I couldn’t afford to pay my bills running my three retail stores, I knew it was time to stop being sentimental and let go. I closed it all up, and packed my bags and my dog, Mubi, and moved to LA for a few months of research. After our stay in LA I knew food was it for me!"
What is it that interests you most about food and the culinary experience?
"I love that food is a love expression; you can let your loved know they are loved and appreciated without saying a word. I remember as a kid coming home from school on a winter day to a warm soup or some beautiful scones and a hot beverage. My gran and my mom just knew how much a good meal could give you a big hug. "
What is the idea behind Taste Kitchen?
"Taste Kitchen is a place where I express myself creatively; I can cook all my favourite food like my gran and my mom used to make – then give their recipes an exciting modern twist. I love that I can share that experience with everyone."
"We are in Maboneng - the melting pot for arts and culture. I see the kitchen as a contributor to this beautiful narrative. Food is cultural, it tells you a lot about a people. This is a place you are proud to take your guests from outside SA to experience a bit of South Africa on a plate."
What has been the most memorable experience in your career as Chef Nti so far?
"Definitely opening Taste Kitchen, it was sudden and unexpected. I’m still getting used to the idea. And doing live TV for sure has to be right at the top of the list. It’s thrilling!!"
Both cooking and fashion are ultimately creative pursuits, how does your sense of style reflect your personality?
"I find that my style shifts with time. Before I was a chef I enjoyed wearing things that were quite fancy, shiny and over the top. But with my transition to food, I have seen my closet change to natural tones, soft palettes, and lots of flats. I’m definitely now a Country Road girl – effortlessly chic."
Favourite meal you’ve ever had:
"My mum's Mac 'n' Cheese."
Favourite ingredient to cook with:
"I love garlic, thyme, Parmesan cheese, butter, some chilli."
Most memorable dining experience:
"My birthday last year in ZUMA Hong Kong – it was everything and more without doing the most."
"Le Petite Maison. They originated in Nice, and are now global with outposts in London, Miami, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Hong Kong. "