Thembeka has been cooking since she was 12-years-old.
Thembeka has been cooking since she was 12-years-old.

There are many ways to communicate, and cooking is one of them, says Thembeka Sibanyoni the 28-year-old star of Tee’s Cooking Addiction, a leading catering company in Mpumalanga.

She might not have done any formal culinary courses, but surely understands the language of cooking – a skill that comes in quite handy when she helps others through her cooking classes to make magic in the kitchen.

The self-proclaimed chef and entrepreneur says, “Cooking is a language that most people don’t understand. I live every day trying to teach people, and to inspire them to put some effort in understanding this language.”

Born in Soweto as the eldest of three children, Sibanyoni was raised by her grandparents, Zodwa and Daniel Sibanyoni Yende. Her grandparents were very overprotective and never wanted her to get hurt.

“My entire childhood is packed with great memories. Being raised by loving grandparents and being treated like an egg.”

In 2008 she matriculated from Evander High School in the mining town of Evander in Mpumalanga. Thereafter Sibanyoni enrolled at Rosebank College, where she completed her studies in information technology.

In the end, her love for all things food triumphed over a career in front of a computer. Her love for cooking began at a young age when she cooked for the first time. “I was 12, and part of the meal (I prepared) was cabbage. My grandparents couldn’t stop talking about it.”

Thembeka shares her culinary skills with other people through the cooking classes that she offers.
Thembeka Sibanyoni happily shares her culinary skills with others through the cooking classes that she offers.

In 2017 Sibanyoni, who now lives in Secunda, Mpumalanga, sacrificed everything to start her own business. “I started Tee’s Cooking Addiction with no savings and zero funding. Now, two years later, we have assets worth more than R1 million.” Furthermore, she employs four full-time and 14 part-time employees.

The straight-talking mother of one says she works in a very demanding industry. “I hardly sleep before and during big events. I spend abnormal hours on the road, but in the end it’s worth it when clients are happy.”

Sibanyoni adds that she only swaps her high heels for a pair of sneakers when she has to work for 12 hours straight. Besides cooking, her favourite things to do are traveling, socialising and, of course, eating.

Looking to the future, this leading entrepreneur says she has already set plans in motion to open her own restaurant soon. There is no doubt that people will come flocking to taste her delicious meals. Her big secret? Her food is simple, no-mess-no-fuss and easily prepared – just like the delectable spicy tikka wings recipe she shares with Food For Mzansi readers.