International Chefs Day, celebrated by thousands of chefs worldwide on 20 October, has its origins in South Africa. This year, SA Chefs Association is adding a harmonious twist to the celebration by launching an official chef anthem, "Singabapheki", a song that beautifully encapsulates the spirit and passion of chefs from all walks of life in SA.
The origins of International Chefs Day hold a special place in South Africa's culinary history. This global celebration, held under the auspices of Worldchefs, was established in 2004 by the late Dr Bill Gallagher, a UK-born South African and former President of Worldchefs. Today, chefs across the globe proudly carry the torch, ensuring this day remains a symbol of unity and pride for chefs everywhere.
The anthem, Singabapheki, composed and performed by talented singer-songwriter and content producer Ngasii and ZenaniSings, aims to unite chefs, cooks, and culinary enthusiasts of all ages. Ngasii, a native of the small Eastern Cape town of Cala, brings a unique perspective to the anthem. Holding a Master's degree from Nelson Mandela University, he has explored the intricacies of South African genres like Gqom and collaborated with renowned artists, including DJ and Producer Prince Kaybee on tracks like Sondela and Love Song.
Inspired by his personal culinary experiences, Ngasii shared his thoughts on the song's creation: "When I was eight, my Mama taught me how to bake. She began with her super fluffy banana-infused muffins that I believe her Mama used to make. I wrote this into the song as a personal touch with the line 'Mama’s famous muffins’." Ngasii's profound connection to his mother's cooking and the artistry of chefs across South Africa led him to craft Singabapheki.
This catchy 21st-century tune merges English, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, and Sesotho languages, reflecting the rich linguistic tapestry of South Africa. It is a musical representation of the diversity and cultural heritage of the nation, celebrating the fusion of flavours, influences and traditions. Says Ngasii, “I see South Africa as a beautiful market full of food stands upon food stands with the most incredible dishes you’ve yet to taste. I hope this ode to chefs, cooks and cooking-enthusiasts alike further connects the colours of our glorious rainbow nation.”
Commenting on the significance of Singabapheki, Pieter Malan of SA Chefs remarked, " The South African culinary industry has a diverse and rich history, with many great chefs from all over the world having contributed to and shaped the industry over the decades. Today, the directors and regional management of the Association are 100% South African. Our rich culinary history and the diverse influences of our rainbow nation make the South African chef fraternity unique in the world, and, as a fellowship of chefs, we can be proud of what we’ve achieved. Singabapheki is more than a song – it’s an anthem which unites us as a fellowship and a community. Whether you are a kasi hustler making kotas on the side of the road or a five-star chef in a fine dining restaurant, this anthem is for you and signifies the pride we all share in our cooking techniques and history.
For over 48 years, SA Chefs has been a non-profit industry body dedicated to sharing knowledge and experiences acquired through international food promotions, competitions, workshops, educational conferences, and various other learning opportunities. The Association's over 9,600 members include catering and hotel company directors, restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, culinary educators, apprentices, and trainees, all contributing to every facet of the catering field.
This International Chefs Day, join SA Chefs in celebrating our culinary heritage with the release of Singabapheki. Keep an eye on SA Chefs’ Facebook page, or download Singabapheki from YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music on Friday, 20 October.