Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN chef Lewis Mushonga has carved a niche for himself, cementing his status as one among a rare breed of creatives.
Chefs are widely-known for creatively presenting food, especially during cooking competitions, but Mushonga does that daily through his watermelon carving.
His rare form of artistry has become a hit in and around the Indian Ocean Island where he is currently based.
All over the world, the art of carving fruits and/or vegetables is not a marvel as Halloween night presents a perfect opportunity for people to carve horrific figures on pumpkins.
On October 31 every year, Halloween pumpkins are hollowed out and cut in order to create a grimacing face.
They are then lit from the inside with a small candle.
Thirty-five-year-old Mushonga whose roots trace to the resort city of Victoria Falls said he began his watermelon-carving journey in 2015 when he was still a junior chef at Elephant Hills Resort.
“My love for cooking and food started off when I was young, but professionally, I was inspired by Chef Nekatambe back then when I was still a kitchen general at Elephant Hills Resort in 2007.
My carving of watermelons is a self-taught endeavour that I developed while working as a junior chef at A’zambezi in 2015,” he said.
Mushonga never went to a carving school, but instead went to a cookery school.
The School of Hospitality at the Bulawayo Polytechnic College is where his fire for cookery was ignited.
His ascent in the culinary business has seen him move to an Indian Ocean island so as to, “gain some international experience and exposure”.
In sharp contrast to pumpkin carving which sires horrific results and is used to scare people, watermelon carving seeks to show aesthetic work of art.
Equipped with a kitchen knife, the culinary expert spends about 45 minutes to one hour carving visually-compelling masterpieces which range from human figures, animals, and other objects.
“Carving watermelons is a tedious job that requires precision and skill.
It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to complete the job.
I use a kitchen knife to come up with anything ranging from human figures and animals,” said chef Mushonga.
Everybody has a role model in life and Mushonga is no exception.
He alluded to home being where his heart is at, but internationally, an American chef, restaurateur, and television personality who was best known for his frequent appearances on the cable station Food Network, Bobby Flay inspires him.
Mushonga is not your ordinary next-door chef as he is also a skilled chef trainer as well as an author who loves writing recipe books.
He is an author of a recipe book called Bika Volume 1 that is selling internationally on digital booksellers, Amazon.
There is no time to waste for Chef Mushonga as he is always, “searching for new ideas in cookery and carving.”
Over the years, the chef has learnt to creatively work with food and concedes an ambition to see up-and-coming chefs climb the ladder of culinary success.
“It’s my ambition to see young chefs being both local, regional and international success.
They must be patient and work step by step with due diligence.
Do good even if people are not seeing you and work wholeheartedly, one day you will enjoy the fruits of your hard work,” said Chef Mushonga.
Mushonga whose images of watermelon carving have been trending on social media has proven that indeed Zimbabweans have talent and are taking their crafts to distant lands.