What is to be done when a business’s main income source all but dries up due to a pandemic? In the case of the team at Why Cook Studio, the two female entrepreneurs immediately realised that they would have to pivot their business and offer different food experiences when corporate clients were working from home and they no longer required regular team meals to be delivered to their doors.
Mathapelo ‘Thapi’ Montsho and Yolanda Dlamini from Why Cook Studio exude enthusiasm and zest for life. It’s this energy that has seen them through some rather difficult and completely unforeseen circumstances.
“During the hard lockdown, we soon became aware of the fact that we would have to come up with a new business strategy. Since we are both disciplined, we had sufficient resources to tide us over the very tough times and we came up with the idea to host cooking events in our well-equipped studio kitchen as soon as regulations allowed for this,” explained Montsho.
Between September and December 2020, this approach delivered on their expectations, generating sufficient income to compensate for the lean months of lockdown and the quiet times at the beginning of the year.
“We knew that the early months of the year are never great for events, so we paid everything we could upfront while times were good,” she said.
The market for cooking events is quite different to the corporate catering market which the team was previously serving. “Now we cater for birthday parties, team building events and other small celebrations for up to 10 people who want to get together for a cheerful learning experience. We also cater for dinner parties in people’s homes, often using their serving dishes to ensure authenticity,” continued Montsho.
A lively atmosphere prevails when a group gathers in the Why Cook Studio in Bryanston to try out new recipes and eat the results later. Regular clients include young men who are eager to try their hand at making a cheesecake (not always terribly successfully!) or putting together a fish dish as well as anyone else who prefers an activity rather than sitting around shooting the breeze during a social occasion.
When the party crew arrives at the Why Cook Studio, they find the work stations laid out in a user-friendly way and ingredients for all the dishes on the menu carefully prepared and waiting for them on a side table. The comprehensive briefing the guests receive ensures that everyone should know what to do once the event gets underway.
“The fun really begins when our guests start cooking. In the case of a recent birthday party, we hilariously had one team use the mayonnaise destined for the fish dish instead of the condensed milk called for in the cheesecake recipe!” enthused Montsho.
There is no doubt that this hard-working young team will continue to survive and thrive. They recognise that their time at Riversands Incubation Hub was an excellent foundation from which to grow and prosper.