An incubator for Cape Town’s growing food entrepreneurs

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From an ex-policeman who now runs his own kitchen, to an uncle from Wetton who boasts that his are the best koeksisters in Cape Town, Makers Landing, the newest food market and Cape Town’s first kitchen incubator aims to give unique food entrepreneurs an opportunity to succeed.

On Friday October 30, the V&A Waterfront held a sneak preview of the market, which will officially launch in the first week of December, and is situated at E-Berth at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal.

Makers Landing is a R63-million partnership between the V&A Waterfront, which invested R48 million, and the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund which invested a further R15 million.

The primary objective was to create a circular economy, with each person in the food chain providing for the next one in a shared environment that tells visitors the complete story about the food they eat.

The space, a converted 1920s warehouse, houses a food market; eight maker stations where

people can watch food being prepared; eight small co-op eateries; five anchor tenants; and a demo kitchen where food lovers can engage with experts about food.

The kitchen incubator aims to give food entrepreneurs a space, mentorship, guidance and skills they need to become successful food businesses, chefs and restaurateurs.

V&A Waterfront CEO David Green said it was the perfect time to open a market as the country was facing a job and opportunity crisis.

“Makers Landing will be an inspiring, edgy space where new food concepts and ideas can flourish. We came across this concept internationally where we saw the success food incubators have in creating jobs and providing food at accessible prices.

And when cruise ships return to our shores, as we believe they will, the first experience their passengers will have of South Africa as they disembark, will be our rich food story.”

Najwah Allies-Edries, head of the Jobs Fund, said the Waterfront provided a perfect environment for caterers, local producers and quality food start-ups to grow their businesses efficiently and easily under the guidance of seasoned professionals in an already highly successful commercial space.

One of the anchor tenants is Pitso’s Kitchen, run by Pitso Chauke. Previously a detective at Table Bay police station opposite the market, Mr Chauke used to cook shisanyama on the weekends as a hobby.

He said he realised there was a gap in the market as no one was serving open fire braai meat, chicken feet and chakalaka, which are just some of his delicacies, and he then left his job to focus on food.

The Kuils River resident used to own a restaurant in Long Street, however, it closed down due to the pandemic.

He said he was excited for the opportunity, and was looking forward to feeding his former colleagues at Table Bay police station.

Fuzzy’s Koeksisters, made by Faieez Alexander from Wetton, will also be trading at the market.

Mr Alexander started making koeksisters to make ends meet because he couldn’t work during the lockdown. He entered a competition on World Koeksister Day, run by Vannie Kaap, and won the title of Best Koeksister this year.

He said he was excited to share the “best koeksister” in Cape Town, made by “me – not my mother, not my wife, not my brother – me”.

The special Kitchen Incubator programme was developed by Stellenbosch University’s LaunchLab and industry experts with real life experience.

The programme offers a six-month programme to start-up businesses in the form of online modules, in-class learning and individual assignments.

Mentors will also provide advice on the training.

During the incubation period, businesses enrolled in the programme will also have access to a fully-equipped commercial kitchen at Makers Landing.

Applicants to the Kitchen Incubator programme should have an existing food business that is actively selling or operating, and that has been in operation for less than three years. Graduates from the programme can then extend the period of the training at a small cost.