Before the lockdown, Chef Harris Hlungwani was working at the South African Bureau of Standards as sous chef. But after losing his job and unsuccessfully searching for a new position, he decided that it was time to do his own thing – enter Generis Taste.

“I spent my time looking for employment which didn’t go well until it hit me, instead of looking for work, why not create my own company and help expand our industry,” says Harris. “That’s when my catering company Generis Taste was born, specialising in corporate catering, private chef services and custom-made cakes.”

The Kempton Park-based chef studied at the Capsicum Culinary Studio in Pretoria, graduating in 2018. After graduating, he got a job at Kream in the Mall of Africa before moving on to the South African Bureau of Standards.

“I remember it was at 21:15 when I walked into the restaurant and asked if I could get a job with them so that I could learn more and, to my utter surprise, they took me in. I was the only student there and every chef in the kitchen became my teacher. I can’t explain how much growth I got in that kitchen, it was amazing.”

Generis Taste has grown quickly and Harris is looking at expanding to keep up with demand – his five year goal is for the company to grow big enough to be able to provide the catering for national and international presidential guests.

In the meantime, he plans to open his own restaurant @KOO-HU in the first week of November and is busy brushing up on his pastry skills through online tutorials.

Here are a few of this young chef’s favourite things:

To cook and eat? To cook – anything with cheese, from lasagne to bolognaise and all the way to risotto balls. And to eat? Well you can’t beat duck confit with risotto.

Anything you don’t eat? No, I’ve never come across something that I wouldn’t eat. I think it’s very important to be open-minded about food and be willing to taste anything that’s edible. As a chef, that helps you expand your imagination and better your creativity.

What meal would you cook for a famous person, and who would it be? It would be slow braised lamb shanks with creamy spinach, chakalaka and pap, and I would serve it to President Cyril Ramaphosa and his family.

Harris Hlungwani can be contacted at generistaste@gmail.com or follow him on Instagram @too.much.polaroids and @generistaste

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