South Africa is justifiably proud of its national icons – those unique individuals who personify the warmth, beauty and proud heritage of our amazing country. And, when it comes to hospitality, Chef Benny Masekwameng is indisputably a national treasure. Affable, easy-going, yet possessing an impressive wealth of professional culinary expertise, Chef Benny is the quintessential people’s person, a master of his craft who acknowledges his roots even as he continues to impress even his most exclusive and discerning patrons. Chef Benny, South Africa’s very own celebrity chef, rose to fame when he appeared as a judge in the four seasons of MasterChef SA. While his skill and expertise are instantly evident, many people are not aware of the journey undertaken by this amazing man in his quest to excel.
Benny was raised in Alexandra in Johannesburg, and was inspired at an early age by his mother, who supplied meals to local construction workers in order to provide an additional income. The determination, skill, and business acumen demonstrated by his mother proved to be the catalyst which initially propelled Benny on his impressive culinary journey.
The first milestone was reached when Benny graduated from Natal Technikon with a diploma in Catering Management. He began his career as a trainee at the Hilton Hotel in Durban, where he gained valuable experience for more than six years, and was promoted during this time. Now, the stakes were higher: Benny was tasked with travelling overseas on a regular basis, to promote local food at events hosted by South African embassies. It was at these events that he learned the value of creative showmanship as a means of adding even greater value to the already stellar cuisine that he was producing. Benny broadened his horizons as he branched out into several other ventures, before joining Tsogo Sun in 2006.
Benny is passionate about the flair and quality of South African food, and believes that South Africa’s offerings are on a par with the highest international standards. His signature approach – that of presenting traditional South African dishes in unique and unexpected ways, delights and surprises all who encounter them. By revolutionising texture and appearance, whilst including the natural flavours of organic elements, this proudly South African chef uses only the freshest and most natural ingredients, procured locally, to enchant and intrigue his guests with constantly evolving touches of gastronomic genius.
This popular tastemaker is in constant demand, and is eminently qualified to offer an expert perspective on what constitutes culinary excellence. In addition to his many daily responsibilities at Tsogo Sun, he also gives of his time to serve on the panel which awards the coveted “platinum status” ranking to the country’s most prestigious restaurants and establishments. In addition, he has also been instrumental in the recent upgrade of SAA’s First Class and Business Class menus.
With such an impressive track record, it’s easy to see why Chef Benny is a key player as a judge in the latest season of MasterChef South Africa and Ultimate Braai Master. His undisputed authority and vast experience equips him to evaluate contestants with a high degree of expertise – and, for those who can’t take the heat, the kitchen may just prove to be the ultimate challenge.
Most recently joined the revolutionary online radio station, TouchHD Online as the host of ‘The Sunday Cookbook. A first of its kind show about food, drinks, music and lifestyle hosted by a chef.
A perfect gentleman with an easy smile, Benny is passionate about sharing his culinary knowledge with his peers and with the contestants, and sets the bar for aspiring chefs countrywide. Let the games begin!