So how did we end up interviewing Refilwe Tselanyane, a Masterchef SA Finalist? Our constant search for awesome business and entrepreneurial stories landed us on Refilwe Tselanyane’s profile, via brownsensemarket.co.za, a platform that promotes Black businesses. We knew that there was a good story behind a self-taught baker who made it to become a Masterchef SA Finalist. After exchanging a few emails with her, it was clear that there was more to her Masterchef accomplishment, including her successfully run business, Aide de Cuisine.
Tatenda Mark (TM): Tell us the story behind your brand and business.
Refilwe Tselanyane (RT): I grew up with a mother who loved being in the kitchen. She taught me all the culinary basics at a young age. I therefore fell in love with the kitchen and mastered the art of baking at the age of 14.
TM: You run a food business, Aide de Cuisine, how and why did you start this business?
RT: I started my food business, Aide de Cuisine, with two cups of flour, through the encouragement of my mother and sold muffins at a train station. Employment was scarce then, and my business became our little source of income. During that time I took it upon myself to experiment with different cuisines in the kitchen.
TM: You work as a Private Chef too? How does that work?
RT: Yes I do. The idea is to cater for a certain number of people instead of the masses. Whether it’s dinner, business or just for leisure, I’ll be there. I am based in Carletonville, Gauteng, but I travel where my clients need me. All my menus are custom designed to suit your occasion, menu range from 2 to 6 courses. People can easily contact me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more.
…I had to come home at 06h00pm, bake clients orders, go to bed late, wake up at 04h00am to bath and feed Mom then go to the bank for my 8-5 shift.
TM: It’s amazing how some of these well-know businesses have such humble beginnings. Jabu Stone, the owner of Jabu Stone natural hair care products, initially sold his first tubs of Jabu Stone in unlabeled tubs. He actually had a hard time selling his products even after branding them, with retailers kicking him out of their stores citing that nobody was asking for his product and therefore there was no reason to stock it.
TM: What are some of the challenges you have faced going about your business?
RT: My biggest challenge thus far was when my Mom had a stroke and the little that I was bringing to the table was not enough. I had to make a choice of closing down the business and go search for a stable income. Fortunately, I got employed as a Sales Consultant at a Bank, and decided to do them both. It was hard as I had to come home at 06h00pm, bake clients orders, go to bed late, wake up at 04h00am to bath and feed Mom then go to the bank for my 8-5 shift. When she passed on in 2014 I resigned, and followed my dream as food is my passion.
TM: I am sure your mum would be proud of your achievements given the influence she had on you starting the business. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
RT: My biggest achievement so far is being a Masterchef SA Top 10 finalist in 2014. I still pinch myself, cause I’m afraid I might wake up from a dream. And it has opened so many doors for me.
TM: Thank you for your time. I wish you all the best with Aide de Cuisine.
RT: Thank you.
Be sure to get in contact with Refilwe Tselanyane to place your baking orders and to find out more about her Private Chef service: