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Cape Town contestants lead the pack in new MasterChef SA series

The names of the 20 contestants have been released and reflect a diverse mixture of amateur cooks from around the country

Hilary Biller Columnist
The contestants of the new season of MasterChef SA.
The contestants of the new season of MasterChef SA.
Image: Supplied

I’m looking forward to the fourth season of the SA version of MasterChef. The last local rendition of this popular competitive cooking show was in 2015, a celebrity edition, which didn’t quite cut the mustard.

This time, the new series is full of promise and reflects a diverse line-up of contestants.  It was filmed under a cloak of secrecy at a new venue at the Waterfront in the Mother City. And in a first for the show, two of the three judges are female — celebrity chef Zola Nene and food magazine editor Justine Drake. They are joined by Cape Town chef Gregory Czarnecki.

In releasing the names of the contestants it came as no surprise to discover that the female entrants outnumber their male counterparts 12-8.  The majority hail from Cape Town where the series was filmed. 

Hmmm, does it mean that Capetonians are better cooks or was this a deliberate move to save on costs I ask? A handful of contestants come from Gauteng and only two represent KwaZulu-Natal, both from Durban, of which one is a dentist. The only Eastern Cape contestant is from Willowvale and another lone ranger is flying the flag for Mahikeng in the North West.

In terms of age the youngest contestant, James Ovendale, 19, is a former student who dropped out of Stellenbosch University to follow his culinary passion. Marketing strategist from Cape Town Sylvie Harford, at 49, is the oldest.

The food influencer of the contestants — yes, there had to be one — is Luyanda Mafanya, 27, from Johannesburg who comes with an impressive 120,000 Instagram followers.  

And how best to enjoy the new series of MasterChef kicking off on M-Net on February 28?  I suggest you order in your fave takeout, pour a glass of wine, grab a comfy seat in front of the TV, put your feet up and watch as someone else does all the cooking. It promises to be a feast.

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