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Dinner at Somizi's: from good food to authentic tell-all convos

The entertainer involves his guests effortlessly, allowing them to also give the best of themselves
Author: Andile Ndlovu
Thu, Sep 03, 2020

Like it or not, if you're going for a meal at Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung's home, it will contain coriander. In the wider context of a dinner party, that's quite an innocuous aspect to point out. Except, our most ebullient host mentions the herb as often as the filming crew intends for us to catch a glimpse of the various Le Creuset cookware: a lot.

But that's just about the only inevitability about each Dinner at Somizi's episode. It's a show as boisterous and unpredictable as Somizi's singing and ad-libbing.

Weighed down by the ennui of the advanced lockdown alert level 3 life at the end of July, I sought something light to watch on TV, when I came upon the pilot episode featuring actress Rami Chuene.

Unofficial premise: Dinner at Somizi's is what a concoction of Living the Dream with Somizi (his erstwhile reality show which aired on Mzansi Magic), Jamie & Jimmy's Food Fight Club (BBC Lifestyle), and Jada Pinkett-Smith's Red Table Talk (Facebook) would look and feel like.

There will be lamb casserole with polenta or a seafood dish of sorts (it's not tough to figure out how much he loves shellfish), audacious fashion choices by either the host or his guests, and they will embark on some revealing conversations, too.

The eight rollicking episodes so far have seen Somizi host Rami, Dr Rebecca Malope, Jub Jub, DJ Zinhle and Pearl Thusi, Moshe Ndiki, Zahara, Siya Kolisi and Ringo Madlingozi. As he puts it, his guests "are not guests because they are famous. They are either my personal friends, or we have had personal encounters or shared personal stories together".

He stresses that he does not want to have guests he is unfamiliar with as it would make awkward viewing. The upside of this is that for the most part, it feels as though we are part of those great parties Somizi and hubby, Mohale Motaung-Mhlongo always leave us SBWLing over via Instagram.

I've always enjoyed people-watching, including my peeping in on my devilishly sexy former neighbour (who had a penchant for spending his weekends topless in his backyard), and this feels as gratifying: listening to friends trading life and career advice and reminiscing over delicious secrets such as Rami's sex toys and imminent menopause, Somizi being caught by policemen while in a compromising position with another man on Johannesburg's Bree Street (!), to Zahara's tear-jerking recollections of her alcohol abuse precipitated by her record label and relationship woes, or Rebecca Malope's childhood (where there were nights when supper was something picked out of a bin), and even the hilarious moment Moshe Ndiki almost ate unopened clams as a little boy would eat gum balls. Have I mentioned the riotous moment he convinced an unknowing Rebecca Malope that the Sandton nightclub, Taboo, was actually a church?

All these moments happen on the couch over drinks and, while you wish they could go on for a while longer, rarely feel rushed during a mere running time of 45 minutes per episode.

You are left wishing you could befriend Somizi by the end of each episode ­­– a man who knows that no one is better than him and that he is not better than anyone either. He seems to treat his friends the way he would want to be treated: with a lot of empathy and respect, but not without the ability to be candid with you about your mishaps. Because the conversations don't feel forced as they would during interviews on a press junket, the guests almost get seduced into sharing more about their lives than they ordinarily would. But it's easier to do so when you're confiding in someone who does not treat you like tabloid fodder.

We could all do with a friend who affirms us via their words and their gastronomic specialties.

Dinner at Somizi's airs on 1 Magic (103), Fridays at 7pm. It's also available on Showmax.