A presenter since 2001, Sydney Matlhaku is best known for hosting SABC 1’s The Gen Game and Yebo Millionaires. However, he simply had to feed his insatiable love for food by starting a takeout and delivery service with Eddie Bannerman, called Nom Nom Kitchen, in Midrand in February this year.
“I love food and have always fancied myself as an undercover chef,” Matlhaku says. “Looking back, I think the Journey of Taste, a show I hosted on DStv, was a natural transition from TV to the kitchen.”
Between 2004 and 2006, Matlhaku worked as an advanced driving instructor for BMW, where he specialising in High Performance Track Training, Emergency Vehicles High Performance Training and Collision Avoidance. Because of his passion for motorcycles, he is a member of the Eagles Motorcycle Riding Club.
Aside from his experience with cars, and appearing occasionally on our television screens, Matlhaku also participates in a range of charitable activities. He spends time at Cotlands Children’s Home in Soweto, a childhood development organisation that began as a sanctuary for abandoned babies, and later expanded to address children’s education and social development.
Matlhaku is a member of the YBP (Young Black Professionals) investment club, which is a group of professionals who use their expertise to raise capital for educational programs in township schools.
The birth of Nom Nom Kitchen was a meeting of minds of two men interested in authentic African food. Co-founder Eddie Bannerman is of Ghanaian heritage. He is the CEO of Advanced Integrated Medicines SA and has also honed his talents in advertising and marketing.
Bannerman adds that the idea for the business came about when Matlhaku dropped by his apartment in Parktown on a public holiday. Both hungry, they took a walk to a Braamfontein hotel known for its African dishes. Upon their arrival, however, they were told that the dishes weren’t available as the chef hadn’t shown up for work.
Returning to Bannerman’s home in bad moods, their only option was to place an order with Mr Delivery. “I realised at that moment that here we were in Africa, and not one African dish was represented on Mr Delivery’s menu,” he says.
Nom Nom Kitchen offers a mouthwatering range of authentic African dishes ranging from Amanqina (beef trotters stew), to Mala Mogodu (tripe), to Amadombolo (dumplings). And of course, what’s an African menu without chesa nyama and chakalaka?
They intend to change up the 32-item menu every six months. “All the African cultures in South Africa have their own twist on the standard dishes, and there are far too many to put on one menu, so we’ll rotate them,” Matlhaku says.
“There is a commonality in most, if not all, African dishes. What differentiates them are the methods applied, as well as regionally available herbs and spices.”
Matlhaku adds that although he hates to admit it, South African traditional dishes are influenced by European, Malay and Indian cuisine and cooking methodologies.
Things are going well for this new venture, but of course there are the usual challenges. “Long days and staffing are major challenges. It’s hard to get people to invest themselves and go the extra mile,” he says.
So, what does the future look like for Nom Nom Kitchen? Well, Matlhaku and Bannerman have plans to make it a franchise once the business model has been perfected and the menu firmly established. “We also have a financial concept to support SMME’s and entrepreneurs with cash flow and sustainability. We are currently talking to big business to get their buy-in,” he says.
The Nom Nom Kitchen is adding delicious flavour to Midrand, and the two foodie entrepreneurs are grateful for the positive response to the business, which has surpassed their wildest dreams.