The welcoming smell of baking bread at Zuleika Country House is the work of cook Maria Mokwena. Maria always longed to bake, watching her mother as she grew up. Now her wish is fulfilled at Zuleika, where she happily bakes bread and other treats for the guests at the country house. Maria began her career in the kitchens as a lowly scullery maid at Garonga in 1987, but eventually became one of their cooks in 2000.
Her skills were refined in 2002 when she went on a course and received a Magic Quarri certificate. She continued to work at Garonga, where she and her sister were both chefs. However, the pair decided that if a family emergency arose, they could not both take time off simultaneously and inconvenience their employer.
Maria then began to look around for another job, and heard about a position at Zuleika. She joined the guest house in July 2003 and has been happily cooking up a storm in their kitchens ever since. Born in Belfast, Maria now has two daughters aged 15 and 17. Her favourite food is chicken.