Food blogger and self-taught cook Vanessa Dossi was sceptical when her followers encouraged her to host cooking classes and cater. This nudge was just what she needed, however, and today the 28-year-old digital marketer hosts cooking classes and runs her own catering business, Vanilla Scented Kisses.
Dossi was born and raised in Lilongwe in Malawi, with her two brothers and sister. One of her fondest childhood memories was pretending to cook for her mom, Thandikile. As a young girl she spent hours cooking with friends from the neighbourhood where she was raised.
“All the girls in my neighbourhood would ask for ingredients from home to come together and cook in empty cans on open fires. We call it masanje. That is the first time I experienced the joy of cooking for people,” says Dossi.
When she was nine years old her family moved to Botswana, when her father, Willy, got a job there. In 2008, she matriculated from Rainbow High School in Gaborone and from there Dossi relocated to Mzansi, where she obtained a Bachelor of Commerce in financial accounting and economics from Rhodes University in 2014.
“I worked in the financial industry after graduating in 2014 until June 2018 when I changed careers to work in marketing.” Today she works for a digital marketing agency as a social media manager and content creator in Johannesburg.
Five years ago, she started her food blog, Vanilla Scented Kisses. She says the name of her blog bests describes her personality.
“I chose vanilla, because it is vibrant, warm and inviting. A vanilla scented kiss is what I think I give out to people with my recipes, food and blog posts. It’s a piece of me.” – Vanessa Dossi
In 2016 she started receiving several requests to host cooking classes and cater. “I couldn’t understand why people wanted classes and catering from me. I was merely a home cook who enjoyed cooking,” she adds.
This is when she decided to turn her food blog into a profitable business. “I started accepting the orders slowly until I became confident. The classes took longer to start up, but I organised my first group class and it was fully booked.”
Today, Dossi caters for small private events for up to 50 people. She hosts social and special group cooking classes, and private sessions.
Although she is a great cook, Dossi says she absolutely hates baking, because it is so rigid. “I have the utmost respect for bakers because it is a science and you have to be meticulous to bake.” Away from the kitchen she loves gardening and has a small garden outside her flat in Randburg, Johannesburg, where she grows vegetables and a few herbs.
Dossi aspires to share her passion and food knowledge with more people. “I am very passionate about teaching people that cooking good food does not have to be difficult, time consuming or expensive. I hope to expand my cooking classes to include larger groups in the near future.”