Local Green Chef Melven Mene, winner of this year’s Knysna Oyster Festival event, Flavours of Knysna, has used his prize money of R10,000 as part payment on a car. The second hand Toyota Corolla, will help Chef Mene expand his business, Usatsho Tshisanyama & Catering.
A delighted Mene said that he almost cried with happiness when he heard he had won the Best Dressed Oyster prize because it has been his dream to buy a vehicle. “It means that I won’t have to walk such long distances when I deliver my home cooked lunches to businesses throughout Knysna, from Main Road to Thesen Islands,” he explains.
“I couldn’t believe it because when they called 3rd prize I thought, well I didn’t win,” says Mene. “Then they called 2nd prize and I thought, I definitely didn’t win. Then they called 1st prize and they couldn’t pronounce the name of my business so I didn’t realise I was the winner. But then everyone around me started clapping and they gave me a mic and I didn’t have words. Now I can take my business to another level and start selling lunches in the industrial area.”
Mene’s winning oyster dressing was a Pineapple Vodka Salsa made with cucumber, chili, fresh dill and coriander, and topped with ‘caviar’. This fresh, simple style is reflected in his lunch menus which he says are based on the weather and are cooked with the freshest possible local produce. “My food is seasonal, so when it’s cold I make soups, lasagnes, curry and rice, and spaghetti bolognaise. On a hot day I will service sandwiches, quiches, pies and salads.
Presently Mene employs full time helper, Simthandile Mpayipheli, who he is teaching to cook. He has others on standby for functions and busier periods and says that with a vehicle he will be able to expand his business and employ more people. “The competition was a very good promotion for me and my outside catering business,” says Mene. “I have a lot of interest in my food now and have two weddings booked!”
You can contact Chef Mene for orders on 081 059 3683.