Katleho Bambisa follows his heart into cooking

It was the memory of helping his grandma cook and Jamie Oliver's antics on The Naked Chef that cemented Katleho Bambisa's love for the culinary industry. The self-proclaimed shy boy from the hood says he's trying to bring good affordable food to the people, as a caterer and private chef through his business venture Artistic Flavour.

The 28-year-old left his job as a real-time administrator at Dimension Data to go to culinary school.

"As I was working there, I saw that people were always looking for food and it was a mission to get food, especially if you worked night shift. I saw a gap there and started selling bunny chows at work.

"And also, people would come to my place and I'd cook for them and then they started suggesting that I open up a restaurant. Then it hit me: why not go to culinary school and take it from there?"

He quit his job and enrolled at Culinary Passion School of Hospitality in Midrand in 2016. Of his former jobs, one of which was as a call centre agent, he says they taught him a lot that he uses in his business to date.

"That's where I basically learnt your customer service skills, how to engage with people and how to resolve problems by coming up with solutions with regard to a specific brand.

And with the real-time administrator [job] I helped people with their leave applications etc, and that basically included your Labour Act... both of those jobs are currently helping me now with my business, that you have to consider certain things, the internal and external factors.

"Things like what will you be selling at a particular event, whether or not you will hire anyone to help you cook at a certain event, the number of hours they'll be working etc."

Bambisa currently employs two people for when he is working at an event, though he hopes the number will grow when his business grows.

The Katlehong, East Rand, native says he's building up his clientele on social media. His dreams of emulating Oliver are currently on hold as he says he has to work up to it due to his reserved nature.

"TV? I don't think now, because I am a bit reserved and a bit shy, you know how nerves can be," he says.

His business has been running since 2017, his outlook is upbeat despite his private chef services moving slowly.

Challenges include people paying late, haggling down or not paying at all.

TV? I don't think now, because I am a bit reserved and a bit shy, you know how nerves can be

"The one thing I've noticed about being in this industry is that people are always like, 'nah it's just food'. But it takes planning, you need knowledge for instance to purchase ingredients, you need to know where to purchase ingredients, what type of ingredients, how to infuse them and how to store them. People think things just go into the pot nje."

Bambisa says his private chef and catering services are for the people and his food is bound to warm and heal the soul. He says he's the go-to man for good food at affordable prices served without any elitism or judgment.

"We cater for your average market, for people who can't afford to go out to gourmet restaurants. People who are part of societies, cater for baby showers and other events. We provide them with street food style platters and on weekends we also sell our gourmet burgers. you basically call and collect. With platters, you have to call a week before."

Bambisa is based in Leondale, Germiston. His most affordable meal is loaded fries with bacon, cheese and sirracha hich gos for R35; and the platters for 10 people minimum start at R480. Bambisa says he loves how South Africans infuse a lot of different cuisines into one dish.

"You know people are infusing a bit of Zulu, a bit of Sotho, a bit of Xhosa, your British, Spanish and Italian cuisines and actually combining all of that in one dish.

"For instance, one of the things we also sell is a normal beef patty with Mexican-infused sauces, accompanied with chakalaka.

"That's what I love about SA, people are exploring more and they're taking inspiration from all these cuisines and utilising them to benefit them and it's all in one single dish. I just love the creativity there."

Bambisa enjoys Asian cuisine. "Asian flavours just top it off for me and that's what excites me, whenever I'm having any Asian dish I'm excited for days. Asian flavours basically include all of our senses that we have - your sweet, your sour, your salty everything is infused into one.

"With Asian you definitely have got garlic, ginger, your wasabi, your soy sauce, bits of chilli, bits of honey for sweetness, their flavours, seaweed...

"The flavour profile is pretty broad but the ones I just mentioned are primary and they include that into every dish ."

-Dlomo is a content producer at SowetanOnline

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