At first glance, Nthabiseng Nti Ramaboa fits the profile of a celebrity chef.
She is instantly recognizable from her show on e.tv’s The Perfect Ace and is a regular on that channel’s breakfast show Sunrise, but takes every opportunity to shift recognition to those who made her dream possible.
“I come from Soweto and as with all other townships, there were always women who would be up at the crack of dawn to make vetkoeks and other food for those going to work in the morning.
“The same women would be there in the afternoon and evening with prepared plates. They are more consistent than some five-star restaurant chefs,” says Ramaboa, who is better known as Chef Nti.
“I am putting together a project that will not only acknowledge these ladies, but also celebrate them. I will go around the country and identify these entrepreneurs and make sure the nation knows what they go through on a daily basis.”
Ramaboa is passionate about helping improve the lot of others because their struggles resonate with her own.
“I do not come from money so had to work very hard to start a facilities management company that maintained government buildings. I also had a fashion label called Bello Couture, but had to close down both of them in 2013 as they were not doing well enough.
“I had to search deep within me and took a chance at one of my other passions – food. I sold my house in order to move to the US where I studied a culinary course. Thereafter, I worked at the London West Hollywood Hotel – the restaurant was owned and run by Gordon Ramsay.”
After a year, she came back to South Africa bubbling with potential. She completed a diploma at the International Hotel School. She did her practicals at the exclusive Saxon Hotel in Sandhurst.
“It is great to be recognized, but I see my role as someone who lets my audiences know anything is possible,” she says.
There’s more to Ramaboa than just turning ingredients into fabulous dishes – she’s also passionate about fashion design.
“I design and manufacture African-inspired aprons. My latest range is called Mathato – named after my mother – and is my little way of thanking her for showing me what it means to be a strong black woman.”