Emazulwini earns a spot on the World’s 50 Best 50 Next list

Emazulwini restaurant owner Mmabatho Molefe.

Modern Zulu-inspired restaurant Emazulwini at Makers Landing at the Cruise Terminal has made it onto the World’s 50 Best 50 Next list.

The second-ever list of 50 Next celebrates 50 people aged 35 and under who are shaping the worldwide gastronomy scene, giving their work recognition on a global stage.

Winners from around the world are drawn from the entire food and drink ecosystem and divided into categories: game-changing producers, tech disruptors, empowering educators, entrepreneurial creatives, science innovators, hospitality pioneers and trailblazing activists.

The owner of Emazulwini, Mmabatho Molefe, from the city centre, attended the awards ceremony in Spain on Sunday June 24, where she shared her vision “to be an outspoken black woman, to reintroduce indigenous ingredients to the South African diet and to show the beauty of them”.

Growing up, food was always part of her happy place, she said. “My best memories when it came to food and cooking was watching and recreating episodes of Ready, Steady, Cook. Of course my parents wouldn’t let me cook with real ingredients so the recreating part was usually filled with mud cakes and leaves.”

Emazulwini, which means “the heavens” in IsiZulu, was opened in 2020 after Molefe lost her job in the restaurant industry due to the pandemic.

The Zulu-inspired restaurant seeks to celebrate Nguni cuisine and South African ingredients. “People are prejudiced against offal and I want to show people that if you treat it right, it can taste just as delicious as any other cut of meat.

“I also want to promote nose to tail dining so that is why it is important for me to champion this sustainable way of eating.”

Ms Molefe is also a graduate of the Makers Landing Food Lab Incubation Programme, which offers opportunities to qualified start-ups and existing small food businesses that can show that they will benefit significantly from mentorship, training and affordable access to a licensed commercial kitchen space.

“Makers Landing is a food space promoting local cuisine and SMMEs, and my mentor helped me fund the set-up to share my story as a black, young Zulu woman,” said Ms Molefe.

The recognition comes just weeks after Emazulwini won the African Restaurant of the Year title at the 4th annual Luxe Restaurant Awards.