Spend Saturday afternoon at a family home, tucking into a hearty meal while meeting new people from the neighbourhood and abroad. It’s possibly one the best and most affordable township experiences you can have.

Where is it?
Khwezi Park in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Why go there?
Tuck into home-cooked dishes prepared by a local chef and his family at their home while meeting the neighbours, their friends, fellow Capetonians and travellers from abroad. It makes for a fun Saturday afternoon and it’s also extremely affordable.

How much am I going to pay?
It costs a mere R100 for the buffet-style brunch, including soft drinks. You are welcome to bring your own wine or beers, or you can walk down the road to the shebeen and get some there.

How often do these brunches happen?
The brunch at Hidden Gems is a regular bi-monthly event on a Saturday. Follow Notorious Chef Sage on Instagram or Facebook to be kept informed about the next event.

How do I book?
You can call or WhatsApp Notorious Chef Sage on 081 886 4827 to make a booking. Only 30 seats are available and bookings with payment upfront are essential.

“I love to cook. My family loves to cook. We are all cooks here!” says Zuko Mdatyulwa, aka Notorious Chef Sage, with a wide grin while he deftly chops up a pile of carrots. The table he is working on in the lounge of his mother’s home in Khayelitsha is groaning under the weight of all the vegetables, fruit, eggs, margerine, cooking oil and flour, along with tubs of garlic and feta and packets of cayenne pepper. Meanwhile, in the kitchen Zuko’s sister is preparing a mushroom pie (she’s the pastry expert), while a giant pot of chicken livers is simmering gently on the stove. Then I turn around to find boerewors sizzling in an electric frying pan placed on a milk crate in the lounge. There’s food being prepared in nearly every corner of the house and it becomes very clear very quickly that this is going to be quite the feast!

After meeting Zuko’s family and fellow cooks, his mother and a few of the neighbours (who pop in for a chat and leave with a vetkoek) I am ushered outside as things are getting busy and the house is full of cooks and food, leaving little room for a nosy journalist and photographer!

The garden has tables and chairs all set out ready for the guests – there’s even vases of flowers (including a vase that doubles up as an “African water jug”) and little cups of sweets on the table. (Fights almost broke out over those sweets – never seen them before, but they were very yummy and very moreish!) There’s plastic cups and a jug of orange juice on a side table, along with peanuts, pretzels and fruit to snack on while you wait for the main event. A word from the wise – don’t eat all the snacks as you will need plenty of room for your lunch!

The tables fill up as guests start arriving and soon the garden is filled with the sounds of chatting and laughter, while the smell from the house has tummies rumbling. Neighbours pop in and out, children play with dogs on the street and people walk by with a smile and a wave. Exactly how a neighbourhood should be! My friend and I pour the wine we brought with us into a plastic cup, our new friends open up their six-pack of Heineken beer (no Black Label here!) and we all toast to the glorious autumn weather, our hosts and to meeting new friends. It was turning out to be a great afternoon and the food hadn’t even arrived yet!

When the plates, trays and bowls did start coming out of the kitchen we almost couldn’t believe our eyes. There was so much food they could’ve fed us and the entire street too! We all lined up and filled our plates with vetkoek filled with chicken livers (I generally don’t eat chicken livers, but was pleasantly surprised), mushroom pie and boerie rolls, along with crispy golden potato wedges and a variety of salads. I am still gobsmacked that I was getting all this food for R100! And if all that wasn’t enough, the afternoon ended with giant home-baked scones with strawberry jam and fresh cream for dessert.

I don’t think I have ever found such good value for money while having so much fun at the same time. And I still can’t believe that these pop-up brunches have been happening for two years and I have only discovered it now!

Gather some mates, grab a bottle of wine (or go buy a quart) and prepare for a seriously good time with good people and good food! Trust me on this one…

“Khayelitsha is special to me in so many ways.  The many hidden gems around the township are amazing and I like that we can create economic growth here without leaving Khayelitsha. People should visit Khayelitsha because we are the coolest township in Cape Town!” – Notorious Chef Sage

So who is this Notorious Chef Sage?

A close friend of Zuko’s actually gave him the name, saying that if he was a rapper and a chef at the same time he’d be the famous Notorious BiG. He was born in Khayelitsha and grew up in the house where he hosts his brunches. Zuko studied at a small, organic chefs academy in Pretoria and whilst he finished his studies and wrote his exams, he didn’t get his official qualifications due to lack of funds.

The whole family loves to cook and whilst not all of the family members are chefs or trained cooks, they are very enthusiastic about food and use recipes passed down from generation to generation. Zuko’s favourite dish is Umphokoqo (sour milk and maize) – you are welcome to request it if you go to one of his brunches!

Inside information
If you are nervous about driving into Khayelitsha for the brunch for any reason, don’t be. Khwezi Park is close to the N2 highway and the address is easily found on Google Maps. But perhaps get an Uber anyway – you may end up spending the better part of the afternoon enjoying the company, along with plenty of wine or beer!

Published May 2019 | Own cost