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Tips to elevate your culinary game

Buy fresh, don’t over complicate what you are doing, advises chef Vaghi

Nombuso Kumalo Content Producer


Beer and cheese soup
Beer and cheese soup
Image: supplied

Attention to all the My Kitchen Rules enthusiasts. Are you looking to wow your guests with your unmatched culinary excellence and pizazz – from the snack bowl to the dinner table?

We tapped the expertise of Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth executive chef Tyran Vaghi on how to add a little extra va-va voom on a tight budget:

What inspired your love for food? 

It began at quite an early age. I was interested in mixing up different flavours and various methods. Little did I know that my interest was the start of my journey. 

Talk to us about your food journey? 

I grew up in Kariega (formerly known as Uitenhage), in the Eastern Cape. After I matriculated, I went to England and spent a few years there. I started out as a dish washer at a restaurant that focused more on Anglo-Saxon style. I later worked my way into the kitchen and after some time, the company sponsored me to go study to be a chef. 

What moment in your life gave you the confirmation that you were on the right track?  

In England, I took part in a cooking competition and found myself being the youngest and only foreign participant. We were given minimal equipment and only a few ingredients and were told to make a traditional British dish in a set time. This was all in front of a live crowd, so it was quite scary for a then 19-year-old with no real professional cookery experience. I ended up placing second in that event. At that moment I realised that I was on the right track.   

Three budget-friendly tips to elevate our culinary game that rival restaurant standards?  

Buy fresh, support local and don’t over complicate what you are doing. With the right quality ingredients, less is more. 

What new-flavour offerings should we try right now that will wow guests?  

For this time of year, my advice is to use as many fruits as possible. Mango, pineapple and citrus, especially citrus. It is such a versatile fruit. It has fresh, clean flavours and can really elevate your dishes. 

What is one delicious snack options people can make in their kitchen to add va-va-voom?  

This really all depends on your own individual taste. Most homes now have airfryers, so you can use that as a dehydrator and dry out frozen fruits, such as strawberries, to make candy. You could try your hand at three or four-ingredient biscuits combinations, which do not use eggs.

For example, oats cookies. Simple, tasty and very quick to make. Leftover rice can be converted to a cold rice pudding with barely any effort at all. Leftover breads can be made into a bread-and-butter pudding. There is really no reason to waste, or at least, not use everything you have cooked, and the best part is that it won’t cost you anything extra. 

Beer and cheese soup recipe  


  • 50g butter 
  • 50g flour – all purpose is fine 
  • 300ml room temperature beer (Chef Vaghi prefers Heineken for the taste) 
  • 100ml fresh cream 
  • 100g cheddar 


  • Combine the butter and flour in a saucepan over a low heat; once cooked it will go a light shade of yellow.  
  • Slowly start adding beer while whisking the mix and once all the beer is added, cook for a further five minutes.  
  • Next add in the fresh cream and cook for five minutes.  
  • Lastly add in the cheddar and mix through until melted.  
  • Before serving check the seasoning of the soup, Chef Vaghi recommends adding a dash of white pepper. 
Chef Tyran Vaghi, Executive Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth.
Chef Tyran Vaghi, Executive Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth.
Image: supplied
Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth in Gqeberha.
Radisson Blu Hotel Port Elizabeth in Gqeberha.
Image: supplied

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