The #CookOff: Even the President has taken notice

… and the amateurs’ delight may soon take to TV


BW Twitter streets are buzzing with excitement from the hugely popular cooking challenge, The CookOff, that has turned lazy Sundays into a virtual get together.

Championed by Kagiso Mpa (twitter handle @EarlofGC), The CookOff is not only a virtual cooking contest but also a platform for many young Batswana to come together on a Sunday, engage in playful banter and support their favourite ‘chef’ of the day showcasing their cooking skills.

“Several people have requested for professionals, but we want it to be about the amateurs, the regular people who cook at home on a Sunday. This keeps it enjoyable and relatable,” says Mpa, popularly known as Earl on Twitter.

And it seems the Coronavirus lockdown presented BW Twitter with the fun concept that has since gained momentum and grown to epic proportions. The ‘referee’ and organiser of The CookOff explained to Time Out that the concept of a cookoff started during the lockdown when his two buddies who often showcase their questionable cooking skills and were trolled for their undesirable food decided to go head to head. The duo, one based in Gaborone and the other in Johannesburg, staged the contest on the timeline with Twitter users fully engaged in commentary and banter.

The competition has now gained traction, attracting brands and corporates. “Different brands have started to notice that The CookOff brings in numbers under the hashtag. Some would actually hop on The CookOff and offer the winners some of their products without engaging us, but we have since urged those companies to talk to us so we can help them stretch their brands so that they get the right attention. So we are in talks with agencies representing these companies and exploring possible sponsorship and partnerships,” Mpa said.

The organisers are bringing numbers to the table. “We are all about data analytics,” he asserted. “Any company or brand that approaches us, we are able to present them with a report on the traffic that The Cook Off attracts. It’s all about the numbers.”While some would claim that tweeting is not as powerful as taking it to the kitchen, the fact is that millennials build movements online in order to take them to the kitchen or the street with more power and purpose. The different weekly hashtags under The CookOff have been connect-ing thousands of Batswana Twitter users through the power of social media.

Such is the growth and irresistible vibe of The CookOff that even President Mokgweetsi Masisi and some of his ministers have taken notice of the unity that the movement has brought to young Batswana and publicly endorsed it. In fact, according to Mpa, they are soon to have a cookoff for charity where a member of the ruling party will go head to head with the opposition.

“The winner under this hashtag will donate their prizes to a charity of their choice,” he says. “That is another way we plan on giving back to the society.”From inception with#KitsovsBokang and the hugely popular #BattleofTheCarols to this week’s seafood spectacular with #TheKaboCookOff, it has become evident that Botswana (and South African) Twitter users have welcomed this concept. Such is its popularity that the next two months are fully booked.

“This Sunday, Twitter users can look forward to MotheiQuirkvsDimphoSeisa whose theme will be ‘Under 100 Bucks Budget.’ These two will donate school uniforms for some underprivileged kids under their hashtag,” says Mpa.

The organisers plan to expand to television to turn The CookOff into a cooking show, starting with exploring images and videos for the socials, including Facebook