From chakalaka to chicken intestines, this pizzeria is Africanising Italian cuisine
From masonja to chakalaka, this entrepreneur is giving Italian cuisine a local twist. Based in Turfloop, Noko Tseba was inspired by a number of similar fast-food chain restaurants to start his own business after realising that a number of other franchises were mixing international flavours with local ingredients.
He was especially propelled to start the business after he realised that a lot of black people displayed shyness to the unfamiliarity of pizza in his community. To change this, Tseba wanted to create a menu that would allow customers to feel free in whatever they order by having more control over what went into it.
It took Tseba eight months to save money and purchase his first wood fire oven. “Unlike when they go to other outlets to spoil their girlfriends or their parents and they don’t even understand what is on that pizza. So I am able to create African cuisine pizza where they can have a simple menu they can relate to,” says Tseba.
Tseba’s biggest hurdle in starting Monate Pizza was getting customers and keeping them interested. To combat this problem, he promoted the business via social media and took to the streets with tasting samples. Other than chakalaka and chicken livers, popular ingredients added include malala (chicken intestines) which customers buy from informal traders who sell near the Monate Pizza.
Of his most popular customers, Tseba notes that students have been most receptive to the creative menu. Tseba hopes to get Monate Pizza on the go with a mobile kitchen that would allow them to tour different areas and offer their delicious twist on pizza at different food markets.
Tseba advises that entrepreneurs who also want to start a business like his need to be passionate about introducing something new to their communities.
“You have to be sure about it and just go for it. Don’t think about failure, just go for it. You’ll see when you get there. Never let fear get you down. Be unique and be yourself.”