Spinach queen, butcher and kasi cuisine – she’s all that

Ncumisa Mkhabile is on the up and up. Known as Khayelitsha's Spinach Queen, she is a proud farmer, butcher and now the owner of a food business specialising in traditional kasi cuisine

From farmer to butcher and now to catering. Khayelitsha's Spinach Queen Ncumisa Mkhabile truly does it all. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

From farmer to butcher and now to catering. Khayelitsha's Spinach Queen Ncumisa Mkhabile truly does it all. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

A little creativity, social media smarts and determination are all the makings of a successful business, says Khayelitsha’s Ncumisa Mkhabile. And she knows what she’s talking about because Mkhabile is a proud farmer and owner of food business Yummy Nyama, and she is making waves with her kasi cuisine.

The Cape Town agripreneur has been making strides in the food business since 2020 when she quit her job weeks shy of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Ncumisa Mkhabile has always been business savvy. She went from spinach farmer to butcher, and now foodie. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

She has since gone from growing to processing, and has now set her sights on cooking kasi cuisine and selling lip-smacking plates of traditional foods like umleqwa (homegrown/ hand-raised chicken) in her community.

No naysayer or hater can crush her entrepreneurial spirit. “Some people couldn’t understand how I could quit my job to fry potatoes and sell them for R5 in a small package. I persisted and eventually began cooking and selling take-away food,” Mkhabile says.

RECIPE: Creamy samp and a lip-smacking beef stew

From Cofimvaba to the Cape

Mkabile hails from Cofimvaba in Mthingwevu, which is located 82 km from Queenstown.

She inherited her entrepreneurial skills from her father, who owned a spaza shop in Makhaya in Khayelitsha. He has been her inspiration and always understood the power of business. “When my father passed away, no one took over his kiosk business because they didn’t know how to run it properly,” she says.

A tourism graduate, she never quite understood why her father would train her to work in his spaza shop.

”At first, I didn’t understand until my father paid for my Boston College diploma, which truly opened my eyes and showed me that there is money in business.”

Farmer, butcher and foodpreneur, Ncumisa Mkhabile

“I believe my father instilled the power of business in me. Once I find comfort, I seek a challenge, which is why I work in multiple businesses at the same time. In my years of living, I have observed and seen that comfort is the root of procrastination.”

RECIPE: Creamy samp and a lip-smacking beef stew

Food For Mzansi journalist Vateka Halile chatted to the Khayelitsha spinach queen.

Ncumisa Mkhabile specialises in traditional kasi cuisine. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

From farming to a butchery, and now a food business. Where does your passion for cooking come from?

I began my foodie journey in 2019 when I resigned from my job as a call centre operator. I resigned because I wanted to be my own boss, an entrepreneur, and I was willing to take a risk because starting a business is not easy.

Growing up I was that girl who was always stealing with her eyes, and my parents also taught me some skills. The internet is polishing all those skills today.

Before the March 2020 lockdown, I had a catering business that became my sole source of income. I needed to devise a strategy to recoup my losses. I began by selling poultry that I had purchased from a supplier. I was doing door-to-door deliveries at the time, but it didn’t please me. I moved on to farming, poultry and then Yummy Nyama and now I am back to cooking.

Ncumisa Mkhabile was unstoppable in achieving her goals – not because she did not have failures or doubts but because she carried on despite them. Photos: Supplied/Ncumisa Mkabile

How do you find balance in managing these businesses?

Balancing everything is very difficult because sometimes I do not meet my deadlines.

All of the businesses I run rely on one vehicle for deliveries, which causes me to deliver late to my customers. But for the time being, I’m taking things day by day. I’m fortunate to have customers who are very understanding and who understand me.

What are some highlights in your food journey thus far?

I’ve already created a lot of job opportunities for people. Knowing that people can put food on the table at the end of the day makes me happy, and that’s a big accomplishment. The main goal is to make a difference in the community. I have seven employees on the farm and one in the cooking business, so being able to provide jobs for eight people makes me very proud.

Who are some of your most prominent clientele?

My target market is community members and workers. I work in the heart of Khayelitsha – near schools, the traffic department, a hospital, community radio stations, the Isisvivana Centre and the Khayelitsha magistrate’s court. People must order a minimum number of plates in order for me to be able to deliver.

RECIPE: Creamy samp and a lip-smacking beef stew

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