Take a seat at Lorna Maseko's Christmas table

Image: Simz Mkhwanazi

“I think when you’re hosting guests, it’s because you want to put your heart on the plate, so you want to go the extra mile, just to make it that extra special,” says multi-hyphenate chef and foodie Lorna Maseko. “My love language is giving, so for me, it comes very easy.”

When it comes to hosting, it’s all about the experience for Maseko, and that means everything from the food to the ambience. “I just want people to come out of the dinner party thinking, 'Oh my gosh, that was such an amazing experience. It’s not just about the food; it’s about the entire experience. It’s about the canapé you had, it’s about the music, it’s about the ambience you’re trying to create,” she smiles.

I don’t go too fancy because there’s something hearty about seeing people grab and saying, 'Please pass me this' or 'Please can I have that?' I love that engagement"

So what does it take to become a top-class host, Lorna Maseko style? Start with a delicious yet uncomplicated menu. “I start by thinking, what are the tastiest dishes I can make? And then I take it from there,” she says. “I don’t go too fancy because there’s something hearty about seeing people grab and saying, 'Please pass me this' or 'Please can I have that?' I love that engagement.” If you’re there, chances are you’ll be asking for a share of her infamous oxtail or new menu obsession — whole baked fish — while sipping on a gin and tonic.

Once you have the menu on lock, prep like a pro, and the rest will fall into place. “What I’ve learnt through the years is the importance of pre-prepping the food. You know they always say, the quality of the chef is how planned they are before the event — planning just makes life so much easier,” she says.

Image: Simz Mkhwanazi

A seat at Lorna Maseko’s table

Signature drink:  Tanqueray No. 10 gin & elderflower tonic

The setting: "I love glam, so it would be rose gold — maybe rose gold cutlery or black cutlery — and definitely some beautiful under-plates, flowers and candles. The food should look great.

The people: "My friends — people who are close to me, know me, and add some kind of value in my life.

The menu:

Starter: "Asian flavours are my favourite, so I'd make something like tuna wrapped in black sesame seeds with a wasabi mayonnaise."

Main: "I’m obsessed with whole fish at the moment: sea bass, tilapia or salmon. I also always kill them with my oxtail. I make the best oxtail! And I’ve started replacing things, so, like, as opposed to having rice, I’ll have cauliflower rice. Or roast potatoes."

Dessert: Panna cotta or sorbet.

The music:

Nigerian or other West African music.

The after-party:

In the house, loud music, so everybody is out on the patio and having a good time.

This article first appeared in print in the Sowetan S Mag December 2018 edition.

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