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  Meet the MasterChef SA Top 18 cheftestants

On Tuesday night (3 April) the MasterChef South Africa judges finalised their recipe for the season when they chose their Top 18 cheftestants.

The Top 25 finalists battled each other in a cook-off involving an exotic braai and seven of them got burnt afterwards when they failed to impress the judges.

The action of the series moves to Cape Town from next week as the 18 go into a weekly battle for the MasterChef title.

They are:

Babalwa Baartman

Age: 18
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Buyer for Poetry (speciality and clothing store)
About: Babalwa grew up with 10 brothers and sisters all around the country, and her two-year old son is the apple of her eye.

She has an unbridled passion for food and loves cooking traditional South African ‘kos’. Babalwa also loves to eat meat - “It’s a genetic thing!” she jokes - and has a taste for food that reminds her of home.

As far as the competition is concerned she says she’ll stick to “what she knows” but will “take it to another level.”
Babalwa Baartman

Berdina Schurink

Age: 35
From: Pretoria
Occupation: Financial and admin manager
About: Berdina auditioned for MasterChef SA in all three cities and her perseverance and culinary flair finally came to the fore when she got through in Durban.

She describes herself as serious, determined and focused in the kitchen.

Berdina specialises in French cuisine and pastry cakes, with one of her wedding cakes being featured in ‘Drum’ magazine.

She’s a big fan of South African fusion food but is also aware of the French and Italian classics, and hopes this broad knowledge will give her the edge.
Burdina Schurink

Brandon Law

Age: 22
From: Johannesburg
Occuptation: IT Consultant
About: Brandon may be one of the younger contestants but believes he's a force to be reckoned with.

He is very interested in molecular gastronomy and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, employing different cooking methods and unusual ingredients to make things like fruit caviar, but he also loves classic Italian food.

With his a deep love for cooking, Brandon is very keen to watch and learn from the Judges and his fellow contestants, and he knows unequivocally that being a chef is what he wants to do.
Brandon Law

Charles Canning

Age: 40
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Runs family panel-beating business
About: Charles has an intense love for many things, mostly his family (he is the father of four children), playing bagpipes and cooking.

He is a fighter and in 2010 he survived meningitis by harnessing his love for music and keeping his mind busy by playing the bagpipes.

When it comes to preparing food for himself he says he enjoys sushi, curry and anything Asian: “anything with a kick to it!”
Charles Canning

Deena Naidoo

Age: 45
From: Durban
Occupation: IT Specialist
About: Deena describes himself as an easy-going guy who can seemingly cook just about anything.

He has a great knowledge of the technical side of cooking and can remember making his first meal when he was just 7 years old.

His late mother encouraged him to cook and follow his love for food and he is now a husband and father with personal tastes that include fusion cooking and curries.

He says he has an "unparalleled passion" for food and being in the Top 18 is a dream come true.
Deena Naidoo

Fortune Kangueehi

Age: 36
From: Windhoek, Namibia
Occupation: Advertising Accounts Manager
About: Fortune is married to an Italian man who introduced her to cooking, so she loves making Italian food (she made an Italian dish in Episode 2’s potato challenge).

She has an arty streak and an eye for food styling and plating and is determined to go all the way in the competition.
Fortune Kangueehi

Guy Clark

Age: 30
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Property broker
About: Guy is an ex-model who loves cooking and who has a soft spot for the environment.

He got into preparing meals when he was a teenager (to impress the girls!) and is currently interested in fusion food.

He says that he wants to win MasterChef “really, really, really badly.”
Guy Clark

Ilse Fourie

Age: 32
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Model
About: A huge MasterChef fan, Ilse says that she's ready to fight for the title and is hungry to learn - and deepen her love affair with food.

A former swimsuit model (and currently a plus-size model), Ilse likes tomato bredie, the flavours of Indian cooking and fresh, home-made pasta.
Ilse Fourie

Jade de Waal

Age: 21
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Jazz music student
About: Jade has a passion for food and music (particularly jazz saxophone) and regularly hosts “FoodJams” at her house, teaching friends and other interested parties how to make food in an interactive way.

Jade’s favourite meals are father’s salt and pepper squid and her mom’s tomato pasta. She’s passionate about South African produce - and learning more about preparing and plating it.
Jade De Waal

Khaya Silingile

Age: 27
From: Johannesburg
Occupation: Marketing co-ordinator
About: Khaya grew up in rural Transkei but she now loves living in the big city, where she regularly cooks three-course meals for herself for fun.

She loves being in the kitchen and is extremely passionate about cooking.

Khaya loves comfort food, such as the richness of a baked potato with bacon and cheese.
Khaya Silingile

Lungile Nhlanhla

Age: 21
From: Durban
Occupation: Fashion design graduate
About: One of the youngest competitors in the Top 18, Lungi is a graduate from UKZN who wants to create a link between her two big passions: food and fashion.

She has a great acumen for food and says she enjoys the way her food makes others feel.

A fan of fresh (and raw) fish, Lungi likes to take risks with her cooking: “putting a new spin” on it.
Lungile Nhlanhla

Lwazi Mngoma

Age: 26
From: Johannesburg
Occupation: Artist management entrepenuer
About: Lwazi runs a crewing agency for the entertainment industry, including musos and DJs for the club scene.

An experimental cook who knows quite a bit about food, he’s always willing to learn - and willing to dig deep to succeed in the competition.

Lwazi says he fell in love with food when he first tasted pasta, but his meal-of-choice is his mom’s “seven colours”, a township twist on traditional Sunday roast.
Lwazi Mngoma

Manisha Naidu

Age: 29
From: Johannesburg
Occupation: Housewife
About: Manisha loves cooking so much that she cut her honeymoon short to be part of the show.

She's a keen learner and is overjoyed at having made the Top 18. Manisha loves eating and art, and cooking combines both. She also loves fusion food: big flavours and lots of colours.
Manisha Naidu

Mmutsi Maseko

Age: 34
From: Johannesburg
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
About: Mmutsi is a stay-at-home mom to two children and her love for her kids and food makes her happy.

She is very passionate and looks forward to the opportunity to sharpen her skills and learn from the judges on the show.

Mmutsi’s favourite meal is meat, chakalaka and pap, and she says she could win MasterChef because she “cooks from within.”
Mutsi Maseko

Samantha Nolan

Age: 41
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Stay-at-home mom
About: Samantha has a great food knowledge and a fierce determination, and she is willing to push herself to win this competition.

Sincere and calm under pressure, she is the mother of four children and says she got into cooking when she got together with her husband.

Her palate is varied: she loves Asian-inspired food, Italian food, Moroccan food, Indian food - she loves the whole shebang.
Samantha Nolan

Sarel Loots

Age: 42
From: Sabie
Occupation: Adventure camp owner
About: Sarel is a family man who is very involved in his community. He runs adventure camps in Sabie, has a craft business, runs a small museum and is a pastor, but despite having fingers in so many pies, food is what he is most interested in.

With dogged determination he too entered MasterChef SA in all three cities, seeing the competition as a great opportunity.

For Sarel, food is also an art form, and while he specialises in desserts he is accomplished at making most dishes.
Sarel Loots

Sue-Ann Allen

Age: 30
From: Cape Town
Occupation: Lighting designer
About: Sue-Ann was a lighting consultant for an interior design company but resigned to follow her food dream and be a part of MasterChef SA.

She has a creative approach to food and enjoys experimenting with bold flavours. Sue-Ann’s favourite meal is red Thai duck curry and she has an interest in cross-cultural food and travelling.

She’s a passionate cook who loves culinary expression above all else.

Thys Hattingh

Age: 29
From: Rustenburg
Occupation: Bookkeeper
About: Thys is a self-proclaimed "bean counter by trade and a foodie by heart" and a total sugar addict.

He also loves pork (his father owns a pig farm) but he says nothing compares to his love for his two children.

A passionate baker, he specialises in desserts and all things sweet - he admitted in Episode 3 that he didn't really enjoy the braai challenge at all.
Thys Hattingh

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