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The elaborate food artist who crafts dainty recipes

Oct. 16, 2020 4 min read

DESIGNING exotic recipes and cooking up a storm in the kitchen come as naturally as breathing to Babatsang Mpholo and on any given day, she is ready to roll up her sleeves to bake her famous Cinnamon Rolls.

But her delicacies are not limited to the highly sought after rolls as the list of her dainty dishes is endless.“Another favorite dish that most of my clients could kill for is my Chicken Tortilla Wraps dipped in pickled chilly and eaten with strawberries to douse the hotness,” Mpholo says, adding that a meal like that costs M120.

When she established her food business called The Food Craft in 2007, Babah as she is commonly called in the trade had no idea that the small enterprise would make such an impact on a lot of people’s lives.

Today, this consummate yet self-taught chef has clients who would rather eat something prepared from her simple kitchen than dine at a five-star restaurant.

“I discuss menus with my clients and I prepare exactly what they want,” she notes. Most of her customers include friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, and other people recommended by the clients. She cooks for private occasions like birthday parties, funerals, weddings, and a few corporate functions.

“Most clients prefer small private dinners for families and picnic food. I cook meals on demand and my customers normally ask me to recommend the ideal dishes for particular occasions. I suggest the menu looking at one’s taste and budget.“I personally buy all the ingredients and strongly believe in quality for my customers. If the budget is really good, I go all about to get the best.

“I cook everything my clients want and theirs is to just come over at my home and collect their order and pay me of course,” she chuckles. She also prepares desserts, pastries, tarts, and bakes a variety of cakes, muffins, and biscuits. “Everybody can cook and bake but the trick is to be unique and make people come back again and again. For instance, there’s a popular confectionary in South Africa that makes amazing Cinnamon Rolls.

I am aware that a lot of people in Maseru love those rolls, but since the COVID-19 induced lockdown, people are unable to cross to the other side of the border and access those delicacies.

“So I make similar rolls though I still maintain my own recipe and they are now in huge demand,” she explains. Babah plans to take her business to another level but she reckons that first, she has to get established and be known before venturing into something bigger. She holds an Honours’ Degree in International Business but her real passion lies in crafting food and experimenting with new recipes. She plans to eventually leave her eight to five corporate job and pursue her real dream.

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“I intend to turn Food Craft into a household name in the food industry. My goal is to own a top class restaurant that will serve everything from coffee, breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as host corporate events. I still have a long way to go because I want to study Food Science and become a professional chef but I guess that will wait a while because all good culinary institutions are in South Africa.

“I also want to teach children how to cook, I learned all the basic cooking skills from my mother. Her mother (my late grandmother) was also a great cook and a nutritionist of note in her lifetime. She taught her community how to prepare balanced meals, bottle and dry fruits as well as vegetables,” she says, adding, she also bottles fruits and makes her own sauces along with dressings.

One of the major challenges she encounters in this line of business is that because she does not sell her products on credit, her clientele is relatively limited.

“Because I don’t compromise quality, my products are not so cheap, though my prices are not ridiculously costly. Social media has, however, made things so much easier because I market my products on Instagram, and I also have a Facebook page called The Food Craft, named after my business.

“Every time I cook something new, I post it on the page and that works magic for me. People just keep sharing my dishes and that is how they get known around,” she says. But she has to buy everything from fruits to vegetables because she does not produce her own.

“I want to build a greenhouse to produce my own veges, especially chili which I bottle and sell in great quantities,” she notes. When Babah is not busy designing her elaborate recipes and trying to meet her customers’ incessant demands, she cooks simple but mouth-watering meals for her husband and two children.

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