Foodies take hassle out of playing host

Why Cook staff members flank co-owner Yolanda Nomoyi.
Why Cook staff members flank co-owner Yolanda Nomoyi.
Image: Supplied

Hosting can take its toll on anyone. Catering to the varied needs of guests and remembering whether you should refrigerate the canapés or not can leave any host frazzled.

Two women who've vowed to keep you from stressing out about cooking when hosting are the co-owners of catering company Why Cook. Mathapelo Montsho, 30, and Yolanda Nomoyi, 33, started their catering business in 2014.

Montsho had been catering for corporate events on her own and found a kindred spirit in Nomoyi, who was only catering for private clients at the time.

The two started off making made-to-order, individualised meals. This had its challenges.

"We didn't always get the numbers we wanted and corporate was always our bread and butter. That's how we ended up doing more corporate and more private dinners," Montsho explains.

She feels that it helps to have an online community before launching the individualised meal option.

"It needs the numbers. The more traffic you have, the better."

Some of tasty treats that have been wowing clients for some time.
Some of tasty treats that have been wowing clients for some time.
Image: Supplied

She says they abandoned the individualised meals after two years and have strengthened their presence as caterers and cooks for private and corporate functions. Their business is mostly through referrals.

"Not trying to be a master of everything really helps, just to know exactly what you are doing and what are you offering."

It also gives them more time to focus on being creative with their menus.

Their company employs six permanent staff. They come up with a menu with a prospective client, serve the food and bring their own waiting staff.

They've hit their stride but finding dedicated staff has been challenging.

"We need to find people that are hungry to work. A lot of people only want to do the bare minimum and go. But unfortunately in a small business, I don't have an accountant, I don't have a marketing person, I become those people. And you find that a lot of people want to do cold food but in a catering business you need people that can do more than that," Montsho says.

They've created exciting and fun things, like purple salmon for clients such as Thami Dish.

For those wondering, you marinate the salmon in beetroot to get it to turn purple.

The passionate Yolanda Nomoyi and Mathapelo Montsho.
The passionate Yolanda Nomoyi and Mathapelo Montsho.
Image: Supplied

Montsho and Nomoyi both do not have any culinary qualifications, but have a fierce passion for catering.

Montsho holds an MBA from Regenesys Business School and had worked as a training and events assistant for L'Oréal, which is now one of their clients.

She says she learnt about service from that experience and her studies help with making business decisions.

Nomoyi studied performing arts at the University of Pretoria and public relations at Varsity College.

Nomoyi says her passion to cook and become an entrepreneur was fostered in her childhood.

Her favourite meal to make is lamb curry, which reminds her of her home in KwaZulu-Natal.

Her passion intensified when she became a mom and didn't want her son eating processed foods, so she started making food for him.

The duo encourage people to be adventurous and creative with food.

They also urge that people stay away from processed foods and introduce vegan recipes into their diet.

If you don't have any ideas they're here to assist, of course.

A Why Cook table laid out with a tantalising spread.
A Why Cook table laid out with a tantalising spread.
Image: Supplied

The ladies of Why Cook have provided a yummy chickpea cauliflower curry recipe to tantalise the taste buds.

Chickpea cauliflower curry

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2-4 tablespoons red curry paste

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 large white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 can coconut milk

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes

1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets

Handful minced fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper, to taste

Rice or naan for serving


Heat the coconut oil and curry paste in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is melted, and the curry paste is fragrant.

Add in the ginger, onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add in the coconut milk, chickpeas, diced tomatoes and cauliflower.

Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, and the sauce is thick and bubbly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander and season with salt and pepper. Serve over top of cooked rice with a side of hot naan.

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