Zola Nene is no stranger to the world of television. The celebrity chef and author is best known as the resident chef on the SABC 3 breakfast show Expresso. According to the reality show, Zola understands the ins and outs of creating mouth-watering foods, while having a knack for television.

After studying a BCom law degree for two years, Nene says that she realised that it was not the career path that she wanted. Nene applied for a holiday working visa and went to England where she looked for a job in a professional kitchen.

Nene worked in a brasserie in Cheshire for two years, first as a hot section chef and then as the head pastry chef. After her two-year stint in England, Nene returned to South Africa and enrolled at the Institute of Culinary Arts in Stellenbosch.

She specialised in Food Media in her third year of studies and subsequently worked at Top Billing magazine as a food assistant for six months. In 2010, she started her career as a celebrity chef by joining the Expresso Morning Show, which ultimately saw her releasing her first cookbook in 2016 called Simply Delicious, while landing a stint of other impressive hosting and judging spots.

"I'm so excited to be judging The Taste Master,” Nene says. "I'm thrilled to be part of the process of giving this awesome opportunity to a fellow foodie." She adds that herself and Gregory will make the ultimate judging duo.

"He's the strict-straight-faced judge and I'm the smiley-happy-go-lucky judge, so we strike a perfect balance," Nene says. "I have first-hand experience in being in front of the camera on live television, so I know what it takes to do the job.”

When asked what she is looking for in a winner, Nene says, "First and foremost, I am looking for someone who has a passion and genuine love for food and entertaining. Equally important is a vibrant and infectious personality."

Gregory Czarnecki is one of the most prolific chefs in South Africa's culinary landscape. Born in France, Czarnecki and his family moved to Sweden when he was 15 days old, only to move back just a few months later.

By the age of 17, Czarnecki had lived in a total of 19 countries. Each country had different ways of preparing food and he says that this is where his passion for food stems from.

Czarnecki is currently the executive chef of the Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West, which recently won a Top 10 Award in the Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards.

Czarnecki has worked at several Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, including Restaurant Senderens (with mentor and three-starred Michelin chef Alain Senderens), Lucas Carton and Pergolèse. He became the head chef at The Restaurant at Waterkloof in 2009.

"I see The Taste Master as a great opportunity to discover new talent," Czarnecki says. "Its always amazing to see people who have a passion for food — but are probably working in a completely different field — get out there and showcase their culinary talent to the rest of the world." 

The chef says that he's looking for a chef that has attention to detail. "I will be keeping an eye on the contestant's ability to be creative and consistent — both of which are keys to success for me. Personality will also play a big role as this will essentially come through their food and their ability to hold an audience," says Czarnecki.

Auditions for the reality show are now open and will remain so until midnight on Tuesday, 22 October. Entrants are invited to record a video of themselves telling the show why they would be perfect for the role. 

Entrants can upload the video onto Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags '#TheTasteMasterSA' and '#StartWithAStella'.

The Taste Master premieres on Tuesday, 12 November at 19:30 on SABC 3.

For more information, visit www.thetastemaster.co.za. You can also follow The Taste Master on Facebook, Twitter or on Instagram.