Before she was thrown into the spotlight as AKA's fiancée, Anele “Nelli” Tembe was a qualified chef with a dream of running her own luxury, world-renowned restaurant.
Nelli died on Sunday after apparently falling from the 10th floor of the five-star Pepperclub Hotel in central Cape Town.
Before meeting AKA, Nelli attended the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, where she enrolled for an 18-month cooking course between 2018 and 2019.
In an interview with TshisaLIVE, Jackie said Nelli was a bright student who worked hard to excel.
“She had a fire within her. She was confident, headstrong and had a great spirit.
“I know her father, Moses Tembe, and family. They were regulars at a restaurant I was at. When I heard Nelli wanted to be a chef, I spent pretty much the whole interview telling her how hard the industry is. She said she was going to prove us all wrong, this is what she can do and will do.
“And she ended up doing it.”
As part of the course, Nelli was placed at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town, where she impressed so much she was apparently later offered a full-time position.
“Her father owns a lot of restaurants and she wanted to run a Michelin star restaurant in SA,” Jackie added.
In a social media tribute, Jackie remembered Nelli as “full of youthful energy and oozing potential” and said her father was her biggest supporter.
“I loved our many in-depth chats. I loved the way you extended yourself. I loved that you had a deep desire to impress. I loved that you worked hard. I loved that you never quit. You pushed hard when most people would have given up.
From never having mopped a floor properly, to leaving my school as an absolute professional at high pressure-hosing, you took it all on with open arms. You impressed me with your dedication. Thank you for showing me the possibilities of growth that are within a students' reach.”