Lorna Maseko is posted behind a white, rectangular kitchen counter running some lines from Migos’ hit song, Bad and Boujee.
With the swagger of a video vixen, she does the occasional little dance. It’s a scene that better resembles a music video than the on-set recording of an episode for Lorna Maseko’s brand-new SABC3 show, The Hostess.
But when the cameras start rolling, she jolts into action and displays the composed persona of someone who’s been doing this for ages. The lines flow smoothly and the cooking seems effortless. It’s clear to see that she’s doing what she loves. Today’s menu comprises a number of delicious dishes, including duck with coconut tom yum noodles, and fig wrapped in prosciutto and balsamic caviar. The Hostess is two episodes in now, and Maseko is eager to maintain the positive response it’s been receiving since it premiered.
When I last spoke with her in July, she was promoting her Cooking With Lorna and Friends project and hinted that she was working on something else soon. In partnership with her co-executive producers, Charles Watson and Sunay Grant, this is what she was working on.
The Hostess presents Maseko with yet another big-time move into the culinary space that she’s becoming increasingly involved in. The show was pitched to the SABC about two years ago but only recently received the go-ahead, in part thanks to the 90% quota she admits. “We went back and forth about should it be a cooking show, what should it have, and then it kind of organically became a hosting show in terms of what you’d put together for an event or a party you’re planning. So it incorporates the décor side of things and also the cooking side of things, which is essentially what I do for a living.”
Aside from the TV presenting roles she’s known for, Maseko runs Fabulous Productions, a project management, marketing and PR company which has worked with the likes of BMW and De Beers. “When I’m done here I’ve got e-mails to run,” she says. “I need to send a quote for a baby shower and I’m planning another baby shower. I’m always being asked for quotes from different companies. The hustle continues, it never stops.”
The Hostess is positioned to not only be a cooking show, but a quirky show with a simple and practical take on the cooking experience. The aim for her is to make the show relatable and fun. “It’s real and it’s raw in terms of I didn’t go to school to study food but I’m a huge foodie. I can cook and I love to cook.”
She really is a big foodie, and when I ask her what her favourite foods are she gives me a list of some of her favourite dishes. But nothing quite tops Asian food. “Asian flavours are my thing. I love love love Asian flavours in almost everything. If I wasn’t shooting I’d probably have sushi every second day. I’m a picky eater as well, I like to nibble on things. I like to feast. I probably don’t need to buy as much food as I buy, but I want to taste a bit of this and a bit of that.”
Maseko also finds joy in experimenting and trying out new food. The most rewarding feeling for her is seeing people enjoy the food she makes. “I’ve always loved cooking and interacting with food, but I think because I was a dancer I limited myself in terms of what I can have and what I can’t have. Then, when I did Master Chef that kind of really sparked an interest, or love, or passion for it. I’ve always loved hosting people and friends at my house for dinner, because I’m a bit of a show-off in the kitchen.” Despite this passion for food, she never expected her career to become so encapsulated by it. But now that she’s in it, she’s loving it.
One of her long-term goals is to own and live on a farm. She wants to understand the process from how the food grows from the soil to how you put it in your mouth. “I’m trying to be a mogul. I’m trying to push all boundaries. They always say cast your seed everywhere because you don’t know where it’s gonna grow. I don’t wanna die without having given it a go.”