Chef Ayabonga’s pop up brings sexy back to dinner parties

One of my favourite things about food is the theatrics around dining well: the expertly curated menus, exquisite wine pairings, well-dressed company and scintillating conversation. In this age dinner parties are a rarity, or maybe there are lots of fabulous soirees happening every week in this colonial outpost that nobody is inviting me to. An occasion I’m glad I cracked the nod to was chef Ayabonga Gope’s first curated dining experience. He came into the public eye after being Top Chef runner-up in 2016 and continued to wow viewers with his culinary skills on Afternoon Express, SABC 3.


The invitation promised an ostentatious evening so you know I was ready. The venue was a lovely old building in the CBD with wooden floors and high ceilings. Only 15 people were invited and our host said he deliberately kept the guest list diverse so we would be forced to interact with each other. Clearly it worked because within minutes I was engrossed in conversation with Spitch Nzawumbi who not only had the most ridiculously flawless skin but was also kind enough to help me on entering when I was struggling to pull open a door that clearly needed to be pushed.

While we sipped bubbly we were treated to some poetry by Sisipho Makambi. We filed into the next room for the main event and were greeted by the sight of a beautifully laid out table. Because of the time we live in everybody took a few moments to snap the settings before sitting. The first course was a spinach and ricotta ravioli with pea salsa verde and sour cream mousse. I was glad to call a truce in my ongoing battle with carbs and just enjoy this perfection of a dish.

Conversation flowed, wine glasses were topped up and then chef Aya came out to chat briefly about the main course. It was beef short rib with rosemary mash, tender broccoli and a butternut puree. It was served with a glass of gluhwein which was a great antidote to the disrespectful Cape Town weather.

The conversation I mentioned earlier was flowing throughout the table. Every subject from music, people acting the fool on twitter, toxic masculinity and the extreme sport that is dealing with property while black in the mother city and so many more were discussed.

Out of the many fabulous things that happened that night a highlight for me me was meeting Misa. Looking like perfection in a facebeat she credited Fenty beauty for she was smart, funny, charming and everything else you want your dinner guest to be. I am currently following her on IG @misanarrates and plotting our next meeting.

Dessert was chocolate spring roll with toasted macadamia nuts and raspberry sorbet. I initially tried to use the cutlery provided which led to the spring roll jumping off my plate. Luckily the nice young man Scott seated next to me advised me to do the right thing and eat it with my hands. After dessert we lingered over more wine then chatted until we scattered off in our respective Ubers. I went home feeling sated by the great food and company.

All photos by Micaela. Find her on Insta @micaela.artist

If this post has made you hungry then you are in luck! Please contact or 0605200299 to find out when the next thrilling dinner will take place.


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