Chef cooks up success after winning culinary competition

Ladles of Love founder Danny Diliberto and chef Thabisho Sechogela at Kasi Kusine restaurant at Makers’ Landing on Saturday March 5.

A winner from Ladles of Love’s pilot enterprise development programme and competition, Realise a Dream (RAD), hosted his first food experience at his restaurant at Makers’ Landing at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal on Saturday March 5..

Professional chef Thabisho Sechogela, from Mfuleni, served African cuisine with a modern twist to about 40 guests at his restaurant, Kasi Kusine, which was given a space at the cruise terminal last year, after winning the RAD programme and competition along with two other business owners on Youth Day, June 16.

The RAD programme is a 10-day workshop which supports young entrepreneurs of small food enterprises by providing training, mentorship and prizes.

It was hosted at the V&A Waterfront Makers’ Landing last year and will return later this month for the second time.

Danny Diliberto, founder of Ladles of Love, an NPO which also feeds the hungry in Cape Town, said support for the RAD programme was “incredible” in its inaugural year and the sponsored prize pool was R1 million worth of training, products, services and capital expenditure.

“We saw that talent is there, the will to succeed is evident and the innovation is inspiring but the lack of understanding of how to set up, run and manage a profitable business, is dire.”

Thabisho was offered an incubation at Makers Landing and after graduating from the three-month mentorship programme, now operates his food service from their industrial kitchen.

Thabiso is originally from the Northern Cape but came to Cape Town in 2015 to pursue his culinary journey.

He trained as a chef at Infinity Culinary Training School in the CBD and worked at a number of hotels in the city, including in Bantry Bay and the Waterfront, and decided to take a leap of faith to open his own business in 2018.

He said he realised there was a big gap in the market for African food. “That’s why I came here, to make African food accessible to everyone.”

“We want to change the way people look at African food and at the moment, we are setting a new trend for African food – contemporary African.”

For example, he said, umqombothi (Zulu beer) is usually made for drinking, but he uses it in his cooking.

Kasi Kusine Restaurant was established in 2018 but was only operating as Thabisho de Private Chef, where Thabisho would cook for people in the comfort of their homes. In 2020, the restaurant was opened in Goodwood.

He said when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and lockdown was implemented, his business took a huge knock. “It became difficult to keep the doors open.”

He said he read about the RAD competition and decided to enter and “I actually won”.

“That was a life changing opportunity for me because it gave me a chance to actually move forward with my business. People from all over will be tasting my food and I will get more clients here at Makers’ Landing.”

When asked what his signature dish was, he said “all of it!” He said his favourite dish was creamy samp with pulled beef stew.

Thabisho hopes to grow the business into a franchise.

Mr Diliberto said when the selection process took place last year, he knew Thabisho was going to be a winner because of his passion and his positive attitude.

“At the time when he won, he was really struggling with his take-aways in Goodwood and was working to make money.”

He said after the programme, Thabisho understands business better and coupled with his passion for food, he is going to go places.

This year, the RAD programme and competition for 2022 will include both food entrepreneurs and agri-preneurs with active businesses that have been producing food for more than a year.

The call for entries goes live on the Ladles of Love website on Friday March 18, where you can enter any of the four categories suited to food service, products and produce.

Each category winner will get a line-share of the prizes including a capital expenditure allocation.

The competition is open to anyone between the ages of 25 and 45 with a valid SA ID and must operate their enterprise in an area of the Cape Peninsula.

Mr Diliberto said: “If our Realise A Dream programme can address the challenge of understanding business fundamentals and enable entrepreneurs, then we are making a difference and that difference is huge, with opportunities to change lives and create jobs.”

For more information on the programme, or to donate, visit

Visit Kasikusine Restaurant on Facebook for more information about the restaurant.