Who: Mandla Nkiwane, born in Africa and raised in the Midwest
Snapped: On 45th Street outside the Al Hirschfeld Theatre
You look like you’re dressed for work, what do you do?
I’m the executive chef at The Iron Bar & Lounge on 44th and Eighth Avenue.
Do you ever get Broadway performers eating in the restaurant?
Who have you been the most star-struck by?
Since we’re next door to Kinky Boots, I just saw Wayne Brady. That was very cool. I didn’t get to speak to him; I really don’t get much time so schmooze with the guests, but when they come in it’s very exciting.
What made you want to be a chef?
There’s nothing more important in the world than food—maybe women [and] family, but food is everything to me.
Have you always felt so passionate about food?
I would say since I first tasted my first raw fish as a child. My mom is a woman of the world; she introduced me to a lot of interesting foods when I was very young and ever since, I’ve been into all kinds of stuff.
Where is a place you would recommend people go to for good food?
I would say the Midwest. It not only rivals New York, it very much has it’s own feel and can be better in a lot of ways. It’s certainly not as big, but the talent in the Midwest is unbelievable.
What do you like to cook for yourself when you’re off-duty?
I’m a big fan of brothy soups, especially Japanese-style. Pasta is also my life.
Working in the theatre district, do you go and see shows?
Yes of course. I’ve seen a few. I liked Aladdin a lot, a lot, a lot. I work so much during the shows that I don’t get to go very often but when I do, it’s a joy. I just bought tickets to see Wicked.
What makes you want to go and see a show?
Broadway shows are so epic and the talent is really what you go and see. People with the abilities that they have—the dancing and singing—it’s paramount. You get to see people that you don’t see in regular life. They’re just so talented; everything they do is flawless. You can see how much they work.