It’s been an exhilarating six-week journey as SABC 3 and Stella Artois put South Africa’s hottest undiscovered foodies to the ultimate test and now, after showing off her skill and flair, Boitumelo Mogoai has been crowned the winner of The Taste Master’s debut season and is the brand-new resident foodie on the channel’s popular variety show Afternoon Express.

After winning last week’s challenge with her unique spin on Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients, held at the popular Oranjezicht City Farm Market in Cape Town, Boitumelo and runner-up Charmaine Ramalope-Makhubela packed their bags and jetted off to Belgium where they had the foodie experience of a lifetime.

During their trip to Belgium, Boitumelo and Charmaine experienced a festival of aromas, tastes, art and culture – fully immersing themselves in a place many aficionados consider one of the centers of the culinary world. Visiting the original Stella Artois brewery and Brussels’ famous Christmas market, both contestants got a glimpse of just how important Belgium’s impact on the culinary world has been and brought home some inspiration to use in their final challenge. Stella was originally crafted for the holidays and is the perfect beer for the festive season as it makes any occasion more special – and that’s exactly what the judges asked the contestants to create during their final challenge.

With double Michelin-starred chef and author Piet Huysentruyt joining judges Zola Nene and Gregory Czarnecki as a guest judge for the final challenge, the pressure was on to create a one-of-a-kind occasion for a very important guest list which evokes the spirit of the season while adapting the menu using the inspiration they gained through their Belgian experience.

The contestants were judged on their innovation, taste, presentation, hosting and overall atmosphere as they whipped up the ultimate festive feast for 14 guests including past guest judges, mentors, former contestants, food stylists and big players in the local food industry.

Boitumelo merged her Belgian inspiration with her Sotho heritage for her festive feast which proved to be a hit with the judges and guests. Boitumelo offered her diners an array of potjie pots with a rich beef stew, a dish which is a staple at Christmas feasts back home, potato salad and cous cous. Boitumelo was inspired by the speculoos biscuits from the world-famous Belgian bakery Maison Dandoy which she discovered during her trip and incorporated the flavour into both her lamb as well as her log-shaped trifle which was paired with a Ceylon tea and cookie infused ice cream and served alongside glühwein iced lollies. The judges were impressed with Tumi’s creativity, presentation and technique which ultimately saw her winning the competition and becoming Afternoon Express’ new resident foodie.

While Charmaine came in at a close second, she too impressed with her festive feast. Charmaine served a trout and mussel dish, duck served with a beer sauce as well as a beef wellington and paired with a variety of fresh salads and a cheese board. For her dessert, Charmaine prepared a Buche de Noel, a log-shaped chocolate Christmas cake traditionally served in Belgium during the festive season, as well as a mince pie-inspired dessert paired with a delicious Belgian chocolate topping.

“I am a winner! I cannot believe I have won The Taste Master,” Tumi says as she celebrates her milestone. “This experience has been lifechanging. I cannot explain how blessed I feel to have taken part in this competition. I have made new friends and I have been able to connect with people I never thought I would ever get the chance to connect with. The amount of exposure the show has given me has made me realise that anything is possible. I am so excited to be the new resident foodie on Afternoon Express and I know this opportunity will give me the chance to expand my business and my brand. It’s onwards and upwards from here.”

Tumi is set to take her career to new heights as she makes her debut on Afternoon Express early next year.

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