The cold and wet weather did little to dampen the spirits of Chef Ayabonga Gope, as ‘The Cook Dude’ kicked off our Feed Mzansi road trip in The Mother City – our first stop in feeding SA’s children.

Buckle up and get ready to hit the open road with Feed Mzansi, as we road trip on a mission to provide nutritious, hearty meals to our country’s most vulnerable children.

In our first episode, Chef Ayabonga Gope brings us along on his shopping trip as he packs his trolley to the brim with delicious, fresh ingredients from Food Lover’s Market N1.

His challenge? To feed 60 children at Leliebloem House Child & Youth Care Centre in Crawford, Cape Town on a set budget.

From shopping at a foodie’s dream to preparing a feast for the children at Leliebloem House, hop in the passenger's seat and watch our chef’s journey in the video below. Don't forget to vote for your favourite chef to stand a chance to win.

Despite heavy rain and howling wind, not even the cold and dreary weather could dampen the spirits of Chef Ayabonga, or the children and staff at Leliebloem House.

The first stop on our inspiring journey across the country, Leliebloem House, is the third oldest non-profit Child and Youth Care Centre in the Western Cape and serves as a home-away-from-home for children from troubled families, aged between 4 and 18.

Affectionally known as ‘The Cook Dude,’ Chef Ayabonga’s impressive list of celebrity clients include South Africa’s Trevor Noah and business magnate Bill Gates, but today, his guests of honour are 60 special boys and girls – who he serves with a smile.   

While slicing, dicing, and whisking up a child’s feast, Chef Ayabonga is met by a couple of curious faces peeking through the kitchen window, who try and catch a glimpse of what’s inside the bubbling pots behind him.   

And while talking to his newfound fans, he is caught off guard with an emotional reaction, when he learns among the aspiring police officers, and lawyers, there is also a would-be chef, fascinated by his skill and attention to detail.

Pasta from his past

So, what’s exactly on the menu for our tiny VIPs? A comforting plate of piping hot spaghetti bolognese, perfect for cold weather days, and a recipe straight from Chef Ayabonga’s childhood.

“I enjoy eating pasta a lot and growing up my siblings and I used to eat pasta all the time and of course, it’s a really good source of energy and also it provides good fibre.” The ideal choice for growing muscles, and active brains.  

As the rain starts to clear, Chef Ayabonga puts the final touches on his spread, and the children start making their way to the multi-purpose hall. The excitement in the room is palpable, but today the caregivers are not worried about noise levels because it’s a day worth celebrating.

A big hit all around, the children dig in, and as empty plates start making their way back to the kitchen it is evident that just as a beautiful rainbow is made of small raindrops, happy lives are made from acts of kindness.

Remember to watch the video until the end, and hit the heart icon below, to stand to WIN a Food Lover’s Market voucher to the value of R2 000. At the end of the video series, the chef with the most votes will receive R25 000 to donate to their featured child and youth care centre.  

Watch Chef Ayabonga's Food Journey again and vote:

Click on the icon below and follow the instructions to stand a chance to WIN

Meet Our Chefs

Chef Rozanne Taljaard

Food consultant Rozanne Taljaard cooks a finger-licking meal (literally!) for 40 young boys at the Khayalethu Youth Centre in Theescombe, Gqeberha.

Chef Linda Mnikathi

Road tripping between Cape Town and Jozi has been one big adventure, but Durban really showed off with its warm weather and wheel-y friendly people. Tune in as private chef Linda Mnikathi cooks up a tasty classic.

Chef Charné Sampson

Who says that nutritious meals have to be boring? This week, Chef Charné Sampson prepares a well-balanced meal packed not only with health benefits but stacks of flavour too.

Chef Reuben Riffel ‎‎

This week we’re back in The Mother City and have challenged Chef Reuben Riffel to prepare a hearty meal for 30 children, packed with nutrients, flavour – and most importantly cooked from the heart.

Chef Makhiba Modupe

Next stop on our road trip with a difference, Food Lover’s Market and Makhiba Modupe head to Bread of Life Christian Foundation in Roodepoort. What’s on The Lazy Chef’s menu? Follow along in our next episode.

Chef Errieda Du Toit

Food writer Errieda du Toit doesn’t have to travel far from her Welgemoed home kitchen when she visits the Durbanville Children's Home to prepare 144 comforting bowls of Chicken à la King and a sweet treat.

Chef Ayabonga Gope

In the first episode of our feel-good series Chef Ayabonga Gope, popularly known as 'The Cook Dude', visits Leliebloem House in Cape Town – the third oldest non-profit Child and Youth Care Centre in the Western Cape.