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The Perfect Serve

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Black Women in the Food Industry – A Deep Dive

Black Women in the Food Industry - A Deep Dive

Dear foodies,

From first-hand experience, I know that as a young African food entrepreneur, you have to perform three times better than any other person. I saw that in kitchens when I started working in the food industry in 2017. We were always the line cooks/chefs, never the operators or head chefs. 

The treatment of black women in the food industry is ironic because, historically, black women have played a significant role in shaping African culinary traditions and cuisine, even in the diaspora. We have passed on this knowledge from generation to generation.

The lack of representation and opportunities for black women in the food industry is problematic. It perpetuates historic and systemic inequalities and biases in the industry. 

Some of the barriers black women in the food industry face include: 

  • Limited representation and visibility in the food industry
  • Racial discrimination and bias in the business world
  • Lack of access to capital and funding from traditional financial institutions
  • Limited access to markets and distribution channels
  • Socio-economic barriers such as poverty, unemployment, and limited access to land and resources

So, how can young Black entrepreneurs overcome these barriers? My next guest chats about her journey in the space, the barriers she’s faced, and how she overcame them. Read on for her insights and lessons.

Shaping the future: A chat with Onezwa

eMandulo (transl. “life as it used to be”) is a South African company that produces homegrown, handmade condiments and seasonings. I spoke to the founder, Onezwa Mbola to hear about her journey and the insights she’s gained along the way.


#1 Tell us about your background and how you got started in the food industry?

I’m a former Marine Navigator born and raised in a coastal village along the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast. My family raised livestock, foraged for fresh seafood, and grew our own vegetables. 

My mother was an excellent cook and when she passed, I wanted to recreate the food that she made for me. So I started teaching myself how to cook, sharing my food and recipes on social media, and gained my following.

#2 Describe some of the unique challenges you faced as a young black entrepreneur in the African food industry.

The biggest challenge was distribution. I had no information on how to get my products onto the shelves of stores around the country.

I live in an isolated rural village so getting my products to customers was the biggest issue. After asking around from other small business owners on social media, people suggested cheaper and more reliable alternatives.

The second challenge was that because we used recyclable glass containers, we experienced a lot of product breakage in the beginning. This meant having to resend orders at our own cost. After investing in quality packing materials, we significantly reduced breakage.

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#3 What strategies did you use to secure financial support and resources for your business?

My business is 100% self-funded. This is because when I started, information about funding and grants wasn’t and still isn’t as accessible as it should be. Today, I still knock on doors for funding to grow and expand my business.
A lot of the challenges I faced and still face are usually overcome by asking questions. I've approached other business owners who have been in the industry longer than I have for advice, suggestions and assistance.
I don’t know much but there are people who’re always willing to help if you just ask. I also read and research a lot about marketing and business strategies. As the owner and sole employee in my company, I must acquire different skill sets to ensure the business runs smoothly.

#4 Can you share some examples of how you incorporated traditional and cultural elements into your food business?

Our products are made using ingredients I’ve grown or foraged in my village.
It was important for me to honour my ancestors by using the land that they worked on with the utmost respect, and that's why our range follows the natural season. We only use produce that is in season to ensure freshness, but we also amplify how life used to be, as our slogan says.
As a company that promotes sustainability and taking only what we need from the earth, we encourage customers to reuse our packaging, as it was in the olden days.

#5 How have you managed to expand your business beyond your local market and access the global market?

Through the power of social media. All our products are marketed using creative storytelling with easy home recipes, and people want to experience that. 

They want innovative, homegrown food free of chemicals and pesticides that nourishes your body.

We’ve expanded our business by offering customers something unique and nostalgic.

#6 How do you see the African food industry evolving in the future?

Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in using African indigenous ingredients. I think that is something that will continue and lead us to invest in our own farmers, food producers, and restaurants.

The COVID lockdown also inspired many people to start gardening, and I think the future will be more about what we produce than what we import.

#7 Can you share some advice for other young black entrepreneurs who want to start a food business?

My advice is to make food that tells your story because making something you’re passionate about will distinguish you from other businesses and help people taste your story.

Also, do your research. There are many things you will learn along the way, but understand how you will accomplish your business goals — and don’t let fear hold you back.

#8 Can you share with us any future project you are working on?

I’m currently writing a cookbook to be published this year under Blackbird Books, which shares my story through recipes.

We’re also working on getting eMandulo products into stores nationwide for easier access.

Honouring traditions and supporting local communities

Addressing the challenges facing Onezwa and other entrepreneurs like her will require a holistic and multi-faceted approach that takes into account economic, social, and environmental factors, and that is grounded in sustainability and social justice.

Our industry must consider the power of storytelling and creating unique products. 

Highlighting the stories and traditions behind ingredients and products helps create a deeper customer connection and supports and promotes local producers.

Visibility for people who look like us in the food industry

As a food expert and writer, I’ve explored the topic of indigenous ingredients and the importance of supporting local producers in the food industry. 

One aspect of this conversation that I believe is often overlooked is the visibility of people who look like us in this industry.

The reality is that the food industry has long been dominated by a narrow group of individuals, and limited representation has profoundly impacted the way indigenous ingredients and local producers are viewed and valued.

It is only when we see ourselves represented in the industry that we can truly understand our potential contributions to the culinary landscape.

This will help to inspire future generations to pursue careers in the food industry and push for greater representation in this space.

In health and good business, 

Chef Lee

If this issue resonated with you, feel free to share it with someone who would find it useful! 

If you are looking for expert food styling and recipe development services, visit www.goodfoodstudioza.com to learn more about our services and how we can help you create successful recipes that are delicious and marketable. 

Contact us today to discuss your recipe development needs and take the first step toward creating successful recipes that will delight your customers.

Women and Whisky Experience Curated By The Perfect Serve

Women and Whisky Experience Curated By The Perfect Serve

When you think Whisky, you quickly think burly men in suits, sealing business deals over a neat whiskey on the rocks. So, we decided to switch the script, change the narrative and invite a few discerning female forces for an evening of whiskey cocktails, conversation and thanks to our guest Whisky Ambassador from Chivas Regal, Nikki Gomes – a Masterclass to remember!

*Alcohol is not for Sale to Any Persons under the Age of 18. Enjoy Responsibly.

Shaking Things Up With Kesego Moeng

Shaking Things Up With Kesego Moeng

The founder of Exuberant Sips, Kesego Moeng, famously known as Robust Hun, is a trailblazer in the mixology space. With only 4 years in the industry, and about a year of that consumed by the inactivity many entrepreneurs and businesses had to yield to in the face of the Covid pandemic, her come up has been one to behold! It all started when a Facebook friend, Tshepiso Moremi suggested she look into the bartending and mixology space. According to Tshepiso, Kesego had a knack for it, and he believed she could do really well if she just gave it a shot, and he was right!

Prior to this interaction, Kesego had never considered a career as a mixologist. However, she figured it wouldn’t hurt to take Tshepiso up on his recommendation, so she did. She recalls her very first booking, which was also kicked into gear by Tshepiso, who she heavily credits and speaks about so adoringly for his hand in what is now brand Kesego Moeng and Exuberant Sips. “He suggested a business to help me get a mobile bar created and set up, and not only that, he offered to put in a good word for me to get it at a discount.” Before the mobile bar was delivered, Tshepiso secured a function for her soon after.

Having never professionally mixed a drink before or possessed even a fraction of curiosity in the beverages, alcohol and mixology industry, Kesego had to learn, and learn quickly she did. At her first event as a mixologist, a large corporate function for one of the biggest law firms in Botswana, she remembers a night of endlessly flowing drinks from behind the bar and many compliments to the mixologist.

And then came the Schweppes mixology competition. Going into it, Kesego was only hoping to learn. It did not even cross her mind that she could emerge a winner once all was said and done. Her only goal when signing up was to enrich her craft and gain as much as possible from her fellow contestants, who all had significantly more experience than she did. As one would typically expect, the alcohol industry is dominated by men, and the contestant roster was a pure reflection of this reality. Being the only woman on the lineup was as intimidating to Kesego as it was exciting because as the competition progressed with each level, it became pretty evident that despite the odds being stacked against her, the title was just as much hers to win as her men counterparts. And at the end of a thrilling and exciting challenge, she emerged victorious in the Schweppes Mixology Competition. Her winning cocktail, the Robust Splurge, made of pineapple sorbet, whiskey gin and vodka with a tickleberry shot, is precisely how she would describe herself; “full of flavour, colour, radiance and robust taste.”

The mixology contest was a tremendous growth catalyst for Kesego, the mixologist and Exuberant Sips, the business. Kesego’s most notable career highlights thus far have been handling the drinks and offering bar services for other major corporations in Botswana, and she is only getting started. For the foreseeable future, Kesego would like to focus more on driving her digital presence and creating more mixology-centred content for her community of almost 70000 followers across various social media platforms.

*Alcohol is not for Sale to Any Persons under the Age of 18. Enjoy Responsibly.

Women In The Alcohol Industry – Meet Scotch Whiskey Nikki

Women In The Alcohol Industry – Meet Scotch Whiskey Nikki

28-year-old Nikki Gomes is the South Central Africa Scotch Whiskey Ambassador for leading Wine and Spirits group Pernod Ricard, home to some of the world’s most famous brands, including the much celebrated, awarded and loved Chivas Regal, which we enjoyed as we sat down for our chat. 

“Double shot, neat, please,” was Nikki’s request as our server took our order. Mine, a single shot with Lemonade. The whiskey novice in me was hesitant as I ordered my drink before this whiskey aficionado. So, naturally, my next move was to check if it got her mark of approval. “What’s the best way to have whiskey?” I asked. “Personally? I’d say it is best enjoyed neat; that’s how I like it. We call it our Perfect Serve. But I appreciate that we all have different preferences; one can have it on the rocks or in a nice cocktail. It is so versatile, and it’s a drink for everyone!” Mark of approval? Check! 

Relatively new to the alcohol and beverages trade, Nikki joined Pernod Ricard in November of 2022 after a seven-year-long stint in the South African Telecommunications industry. Her admiration for whiskey, however, is nothing new. This is what she was always meant to do, “it’s God’s plan”, she says passionately, “I’m a daddy’s girl through and through. When I was younger, my dad and I always shared a glass of whiskey. He introduced me to it.”

Fast forward a few odd years later, she hosts experiences on behalf of the Chivas Brothers (CBL) portfolio of whiskeys, namely The Glenlivet, Chivas Regal and Ballantines in ten African countries, including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Reminiscing about how it all came to be, she remembers the Portuguese Society sharing the job opening with her and encouraging her to apply as she would be “the perfect fit for the job.” The vacancy was for a Portuguese-speaking Scotch whiskey brand ambassador for the region. She applied and after going through the entire interview process, got a call that she landed the role and should be ready to jet off to Scotland in two weeks. 

Nikki is particularly passionate about redefining what whiskey has been known to be. “When you switch on the TV, who almost always has a glass of whiskey in hand? An old, white man.” She says this particular imagery in the media intimidates other groups of people from even trying the drink. She is determined to address these misconceptions through her brand advocacy and education work. These limiting stereotypes also give life to some of the challenges she faces in the day-to-day business of her work. When one hears there’s a whiskey tasting or masterclass taking place, the last person they’re expecting to show up to conduct the class is a 28-year-old woman. “People automatically assume it’s a man. The number of faces I’ve seen change when they see a woman coming through the door – it’s an instant shock. I encounter a lot of men who consider themselves whiskey connoisseurs. They assume they know better than I do because I’m a woman. To their detriment, they think they can hit me with questions out of this world that I couldn’t answer, and they’re always proven wrong. I want women to know that just because something is labelled as a man’s job doesn’t mean you can’t get into it and change people’s stigma around it.” 

Following our chat, Nikki conducted a Whiskey masterclass curated for women, starring the quintessential Chivas Regal. Somewhere between the whiskey sours and the Chivas piña coladas, the ladies unanimously decided that whiskey is definitely not just a man’s drink!

*Alcohol is not for Sale to Any Persons under the Age of 18. Enjoy Responsibly.

A Shot To Embracing Equity

EDITOR'S NOTE - A Shot To Embracing Equity

Full disclosure, I haven’t always believed in many of the special days we choose to commemorate on the global human calendar, especially those that seek to shine a light on the deeper issues that form the fabric of our existence. Gender disparities are one of them. In a world that, on the one hand, has for centuries pushed the agenda that women belong in the kitchen and that cooking is a woman’s job, while at the same time, it’s clear to see that men dominate the actual paid work of professional cooking, it’s often difficult to imagine a world where these issues are resolved.

But this March, as we commemorate International Women’s Month under the theme EmbraceEquity, I am reminded of the heavy lifting that both women and men have done and continue to do to move us ahead and create spaces where women can excel in the food and lifestyle space.

In recent years, women have carved out new paths within the food industry. For example, food and restaurant photography which has become a make-or-break necessity in the success of all food bloggers, publishers, authors, chefs and restaurants worldwide, is dominated by women who make up 62.8% of food photographers globally (insert applause). Not only that, but women are also stepping into territory ordinarily unknown to them, like Nikki Gomes, the Scotch Whiskey connoisseur, redefining the art of Whiskey and pushing for gender Equity within the alcohol industry and Kesego Moeng, leading the way for women mixologists owning their greatness. We celebrate these women and all those supporting the charge!

Bottoms Up,

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DSTv Delicious Festival

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The DSTV Delicious festival was an awesome two days of music by major international and local acts, celebrity Chef demonstrations and a gourmet food, drinks and wine market.

*Alcohol is not for Sale to Any Persons under the Age of 18. Enjoy Responsibly.

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Tigernut, Raisins and Almond Rusks

Tigernut, Raisins and Almond Rusks


  • 1 ½ cup tiger nut flour
  • 2 ½ cups self-raising or whole wheat flour (gluten-free like buckwheat, rye or millet can be used)
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup pre-roasted almonds
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2cup coconut oil or olive oil
  • ¾ cup coconut milk or full-fat cream
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup flax seed flour mixed with equal amounts of water for a flax seed “egg”
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

  1. Mix the flours, sugar, raisins, shredded coconut, nuts, and the salt.
  2. In a separate bowl add in the oil, coconut milk, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar and flax seed “egg”.
  3. Mix the wet in to the dry and then scoop into pre-smeared bread tins or rusk tin of preference, decorate with extra shredded coconut, and chopped almonds.
  4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until brown on top and leave to cool before slicing into fingers.
  5. Place on a baking tray to dry out for about two hours at 100 degrees Celsius.
  6. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.