8-year-old Masterchef clip rekindles Shami’s sadza moment


Munashe Rungano

An eight-year-old video of an American cooking competition has reignited a memorable moment for US based Shami Marangwanda.

Marangwanda, who is originally from the southern African country, Zimbabwe, appears in the short clip serving judges her traditional sadza (a thick maize meal porridge) in a preliminary round of premium cooking competition, Masterchef US.

An ambitious, or stubborn feat, some would say, as the cut throat competition in the show does not allow for bland tasting foods like that of sadza (pap), but Shami boasts, “I would do it all over again if I get another chance”. And as fate would have it, while the judges loved the spicy chicken, they seemed surprised with the collard (green vegetables like rape, covo, spinach and kale).

The clip has been circulating on social media in recent weeks and Shami had been praised for remaining grounded in her roots.

In the video, Shami narrates that as per Zimbabwean culture, she was grounded in the understanding that a woman or girl should cook.

“Back home in Zimbabwe, girls are expected to cook, so its been part of me for my whole life,” she says.

“I don’t remember me not cooking or me not at the stove.”

She then expresses her ambition to proceed to the next level of the competition but that was not to be.

Yet the Seattle based recruiter regrets none of it. So proud of her heritage and food that she still longs for sadza prepared on an open rural fire.

“Competing on Masterchef feels like a lifetime ago. I made it to the top 100 on the show out of over 10 000 applicants. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it further than that clip that has been circulating.”

She describes preparing sadza as “very important” to her.

“Sadza being the heart of Zimbabwean cooking, it was very important to me to present something that is at the core of my home. I knew it was risky then but if I had a do over, I would do it all over again.

“Anytime I eat sadza, it takes me back home. To the best sadza which is cooked over the fire kumusha (in the rural areas). There is nothing like it!”

Zimbabwe might have a bartered image globally but Shami feels Zimbabweans must be “loud and proud” when it comes to their culture.

“I would say continue to be loud and proud of our culture. Every person I meet, I tell I’m Zimbabwean. Also, we should all be better about supporting each other and elevating each other. We tend to assimilate to what ever culture we are put in…but how about we stand out.”

Shami spent her childhood in Harare, Mutare, Shurugwi, Zvishavane and Gweru before leaving for the US.

“My mother was a teacher and my father was a mining engineer. I have three siblings; two brothers and a sister. I also have a brother in law and sister in law and three nephews, who all live in the US as well along with my mother.

“I attended Lewisam, Highlands and CJR for primary schools and Chisipite for high school.”

Shami graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration majoring in Finance and Economics. She has been working within the recruiting space for over 15 years and currently manages a team of technical recruiters at Starbucks Coffee Company.

“I have lived in the US for 22 years since I moved right after my O’Levels.”



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