Chef Willie Mcotoyi was born in iQonce, Eastern Cape, but has never practiced his craft in his home province – until now, with his new appointment as Executive Chef at The Boardwalk Hotel in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth). “I’ve never worked in the Eastern Cape and I’ve always wanted to bring the skills I have learnt around the world and share them with up and coming young chefs,” he says.

Mcotoyi explains that he fell in love with cooking during his high school years in Cape Town, while assisting his late brother Moses, a chef at the Cape Sun, in the kitchens. He then went on to complete a Professional Cookery Diploma at HTA Culinary School in Johannesburg, and, “after some practical training, followed this with a management coaching certificate at the University of Stellenbosch. This has helped me when developing and coaching young chefs.”

“I’ve never worked in the Eastern Cape and I’ve always wanted to bring the skills I have learnt around the world and share them with up and coming young chefs.”

He adds, “I’ve worked at about 13 or 14 hotels, but also in several restaurants in Cape Town in the 1990s.” These have included positions with the Radisson Hotel Group in Germany and in Brussels, The Table Bay in Cape Town, Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg and 15 years at Sun City.

While at Sun City, Mcotoyi worked at the Palace and Soho hotels. It was at Soho Hotel that he took up his first Executive Chef position in 2014, and was then promoted to the resort’s ICC, in charge of banqueting, in 2017.

In his new position, Mcotoyi says he hopes to establish Kipling’s Restaurant at the four-star hotel as one of the city’s best steakhouses. He is also redesigning the menus at the popular The Bayside Pantry inside the casino, where he will introduce live cooking stations with tastes from around the world, such as Mexico, Asian, Indian and South African.

Fun facts about Chef Mcotoyi

  • He names Singaporean Chef Jeffrey Siew as one of his mentors.
  • His favourite dish to eat is umvubo, a traditional Xhosa meal prepared with maize meal, water and sour milk.
  • His favourite food memory is eating an eisbein in Germany; “The way it was presented, with traditional sauerkraut. It was delicious.”
  • He says gelatine is the most challenging ingredient to work with. “You train your chefs but they often want a dish to set faster, so they use too much and when you taste the food, it is rubbery. Stick to the recipe,” he advised.
  • Working in Europe in the early 2000’s left a lasting impression on him, especially the preparation and organisation they put into running a kitchen. This is something he hopes to emulate in his new role.
  • He is married and has 3 children.

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