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Celebrated chef joins First Choice as brand ambassador

Celebrated chef and business woman, Liziwe Matloha, has recently been appointed as national brand ambassador for First Choice, one of South Africa’s leading milk and dairy brands.

Owner of the home-based restaurant Dinner at Matloha’s in Boksburg, she turned her passion for cooking into a full time career, offering classes and private chef services.

Liziwe Matloha
Liziwe Matloha

Born, bred and raised in Boskop, a rural part of Potchefstroom, cooking has always been part of her life. Says Matloha: “I started cooking at a very young age, around 13. I’m from a big family. On Sundays after church we would usually gather at home for this big Sunday lunch. This was most exciting for me. My dad provided for us as hard it was. He worked as a farmer and we all depended on him. With the little income he received, he made sure to send each and everyone of us to school. It was up to us to work hard to achieve our goals and dreams, but he gave us that opportunity.”

Matloha always enjoyed food and cooking, but the thought that she could make a career out of it never crossed her mind. Before joining the culinary world full-time, she worked in the marketing and advertising field. She catered as a side hustle for about five years before deciding to leave her day job and follow her dream.

“I graduated at Capsicum Culinary Studios, one of the leading culinary institutions in South Africa with a Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking. Thereafter, I continued my training at hotels, restaurants and catering companies,” Matloha adds.

Dinner at Matloha’s was formed in 2014. She explains: “I’d go to college during the week and do catering on the weekends. On some days during the week I’d bake after class and sell cookies, which were and still are very popular. Once I graduated from Capsicum, I focused on the brand intensively. The goal was to offer cooking classes, host pop up restaurants and I did just that. I do share my recipes and give cooking tips online, but the most exciting part about cooking and food is the hands on experience which people love. Reading a recipe is not the same as actually being guided through the process and getting all the tips and tricks on how to at the same time. I’m passionate about cooking and food. Facilitating the classes gives me this amazing feeling that families will experience meals prepared by someone who’s been influenced by my way of cooking, which are always easy to prepare but great tasting and budget friendly.”

Matloha loves sharing the little knowledge, information and skills she has. “It gives me amazing satisfaction. The response and feedback I receive from my students make me feel whole and blessed. It’s truly a great feeling. The cooking classes are hands on, laid back, easy and fun. Imagine knowing various ways of cooking a dish that’s both inspiring and exciting!”

She continues that becoming a First Choice Ambassador has been a life-changing experience. “I'm working with a team of professionals that’s always eager to guide me. They allow me to be who I am, as a chef and a creative, and my opinion matters. It's wonderful that I can come up with ideas and First Choice will support me, guide me through the process and give me the platform to share it with my fellow South Africans.”

It's wonderful that I can come up with ideas and First Choice will support me, guide me through the process and give me the platform to share it with my fellow South Africans.
Liziwe Matloha

As an ambassador, Matloha develops recipes, lives and represents the brand: “I absolutely love First Choice products and always share this with everyone. I want to create even more awareness of the brand and provide a face to face experience for consumers. I sample the products and give demos on how to use it. I also encourage consumers on my social media pages to try First Choice. Their products offer excellent quality and value for money, plus their range is very impressive. My family loves the variety on offer.”

Matloha believes that she has achieved “many of the things that I always thought were not meant for a farm girl like me. I believe that my work speaks volumes of what I’m capable of achieving. I’m enormously grateful for every achievement”.

As for many other small businesses, lockdown has been tough. “Due to the fact that we couldn’t do anything, the business suffered. I buy my groceries in bulk for the classes, so that was a challenge. I was stuck with stock that had no guarantee of being used any time soon and I had to give everything away to charitable homes. With us slowly getting back to work, I’ll have to raise funds to stock up on everything from scratch.”

Her aim is to bag as many projects as possible next year to make up for lost income due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. “But my longtime goals still stand. My first cookbook will be released early next year, so I'm working towards promoting it as much as I can. It’s very exciting and will be the greatest achievement of my career. I’d also like to launch my own spice range that I’d love to see on shelves. 2020 was the year to work on this but it’s never too late. I’m excited about the future.”

Being a wife and mother of three makes working uncertain hours a real struggle. “I schedule work a few days during the week in order for me to be home for dinner with my family. Weekends I spend with my family and I don’t compromise on that. Work will always be there on Monday, but the time that is lost with my family can never be recovered. Luckily my family is very supportive of me as a person and what I do. They are always there for me,” she concludes.

Visit www.woodlandsdairy.co.za or the brand new online shop www.shopfirstchoice.co.za.

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