Cooking is meditation with the promise of a good meal afterwards, believes Jabulile Dube, a financial advisor turned food blogger and caterer living in Cape Town. She, like so many avid cooks and amateur chefs, have long recognized the therapeutic power of the kitchen.
The 28-year-old mother of one says to escape the hustle and bustle of her hectic corporate career she turned to creating picturesque meals for her catering business and blog, Easy Cooking with J, in 2019.
“It came at a very low time of my corporate career. I needed an outlet and I needed to do something I naturally enjoyed doing and that is cooking.”
Born and bred in Parys in the Free State, Dube says what started off as a passion project has turned into a business. Her blog posts of recipes have gained traction both locally and internationally from followers who have tried and tested her simple yet elegant recipes.
“I have been overwhelmed by the response. I have had amazing feedback from women and men who have made my recipes and are surprised that they too were able to make the meals,” she says.
Dube says it is important to find an outlet for frustrations that come from the office. Cooking in her downtime provided much relief to her mental health. After watching an interview featuring Marketing extraordinaire Khaya Dhlanga, Dube says his key insights on purpose propelled to value her passion – Easy Cooking With J. “I watched an interview with Khaya Dlanga last year, and when asked about purpose, he said something like “what you love will always open doors for you.”
Dube started Easy Cooking with J out of love and passion. “Since then I have never felt like I belong anywhere else. I received catering requests from clients only a few months after starting the page. I have stopped doubting or downplaying myself since.”
Dube says that her grandmother is her food hero. “My late grandmother is responsible for my love for cooking.”
“Although I only started cooking in my first year in varsity, because I met a boy I wanted to impress,” she laughs.
“She cooked for us as an expression of her love. We never felt like we lacked because everything she put on our plates, whether it was pap and spinach, pap and eggs or seven colours on a Sunday, it all tasted and looked amazing,” she continues.
She remembers her childhood Christmases in Parys as some of the most magical moments in her life. Eating her grandmother’s lunch spreads, Dube says she could always feel the love in every bite and sip of her grandmother’s special gemere le dikuku (cookies and ginger beer).
“In December at my grandmother’s house we always had watermelon, gemere le dikuku. We would always laugh at her because she never used to have all the ingredients, but she still managed to make everything in time for the next day (Christmas).
“It taught me a lot about improvising and that any dish, if prepared and presented well, can taste amazing regardless of the rules. I have never been intimidated by any recipe because of that,” she giggles.
Dube has future plans to establish a high-end restaurant in Cape Town. Noting a gap in the market, she would also like to sell meal kits online that cater to the needs of busy moms, women and students who do not have the time to prepare extravagant meals for their families.
“It’s important for me to empower the everyday women, moms and students who don’t have the hours and money to cook, but still want to present her family with a good meal. In the next five years I plan to have an online business for meal prepping kits. Currently the market does not have enough variety to appeal to the everyday person.”