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This International Women’s Month, we are celebrating the talent and resilience of female Chefs in the industry. We chatted to strong and highly skilled female Chefs, who have shared their experiences of navigating motherhood and being a Chef, while dealing with issues of recognition and leadership in the industry due to their race or gender.

Chef Pinky Maruping


Women In Culinary: Chef Pinky Maruping

Chef Pinky Maruping chats about her experiences as a female Chef, and shares her advice about how kitchen leaders should have a zero-tolerance policy of any harassment towards any member of staff.

Chef Heidi Heckman


Women In Culinary: Chef Heidi Heckmann

Chef Heidi chats with us about her experiences balancing family, motherhood and being a chef in the industry.

Women In Culinary: Chef Candice Philip

Chef Candice speaks about her journey as a female Chef in this male-dominated industry and the importance of staying strong, perseverance and believing in yourself!

Chef Candice says, “’s important that female Chefs don’t give up, you need to stand strong, you might not always be able to control what happens but you can control how you let it affect you and how you move forward”.

When asked what motivates her, Chef Candice says, “Women are often not seen as being strong enough to manage or run a kitchen, so it’s important to show that you are tough enough to withstand the industry and hold your own. It’s vital that you play to your strengths. We as women have so many amazing things to offer; we see things in a different light and from a different perspective and for me that certainly bodes in our favour.”

Women In Culinary: Chef Letts Fakazi

Chef Lethu (Letts) Fakazi shared that being a woman can lead to be seen as having less brains or not being skilled enough participate in tasks, “Often times. we are not trusted enough with constructive and progressive tasks in workplaces, our ability is always questioned or doubted”.

Chef Letts says that she draws inspiration from the women of 1956, who marched to the Union Buildings to assert their rights. According to Chef Letts, “In doing so they were standing up not only for themselves but for generations to come and I believe I’m part of those generations and so I’m a product of that. So just as they passed on the baton, I hope to do so too, to stand against the things that affect my generation so that it doesn’t affect the generations to come, especially in my profession”.

Women In Culinary: Chef Mona-Lisa Mkhize

Chef Mona-Lisa Mkhize joins #FairKitchens to chat about recognition and leadership in the industry and how being overlooked as a female Chef made her a stronger leader.

Chef Mona-Lisa, who has been in the culinary industry for 9 years says “During the time of my culinary training there was a lot of uncertainty about women leading kitchens and the kind of tasks that were given to them. However that did not stop me from reaching my goals”.

When asked about how this affected her leadership style, Chef Mona-Lisa says: “I still get questioned how I got to where I am today at such a young age and I always tell people that all I did was to keep my eyes on the prize. My  style is quite simple and honest, I believe in investing in an individual in many ways possible. I follow the wise words that I was taught by Ntate Bonang Mohale to ‘Lift as you rise’".