When Kenneth Klaas, who was employed in the construction sector threw caution to the wind and gave his fast-food business his full attention, he did not expect it to succeed so quickly. What astounded Klaas the most was that his business grew rapidly during lockdown when many others were struggling to break even or shut down. Klass told Vutivi Business News that he started his eatery, Untrained Chefs, in 2017 because his friends loved his cooking skills.
“I come from a business-led background and there was a shop at my home, but I never thought that one day I would find myself doing business in this sector,” he said. “I knew that people enjoyed my food, but when it became evident that more could be done, I took note.” Klaas gathered three of his friends, Phatheka Malindzi, Thabo Ramasega and Bathini Nhlapo, and together they started hosting market events in Soshanguve, Pretoria, under the name “Untrained Chefs.”
“We used to host the events once every December from 2017, and from the first event the market was a success,” he said. “People loved our food and loved how we experimented with our food. “However, I wasn’t fully in the business as I worked in the construction sector, and it wasn’t until the pandemic knocked on our doors that I was forced to revisit my dedication to the brand.” According to Klaas, the idea of the restaurant came about during lockdown when all he was doing was sharing recipes on his Facebook account.
“The hard lockdown affected our sector quite badly, particularly because unlike other workers, we could not work from home and had to be on-site,” he said. “My wife was working from home, and I was off work and what I did was that I started to share recipes of breakfast, lunch and supper, and people really loved them. “They started inboxing me and telling me that they were tired of the food they were eating during lockdown, and when the government allowed informal traders to trade, I started trading by delivering food to their homes,” he pointed out.
One of the co-founders organised a room to work in, and the place was soon packed. “We thought that we needed a room, but it got so busy that we had to get a bigger place,” he said. “We employed four people and thought that it would be enough to manage the demand, but the demand grew even more after that and we had to get an even bigger place.” Today the establishment employs 12 people, and there are plans to hire more staffers.
However, while the business has performed well, financing has been an issue. “We have a high number of customers, and sometimes I have to dip into my own finances in order to buy stock, especially since the busiest days start from Thursday to Sunday.” Now the passionate entrepreneur has set his sights set on the township economy. “I want to ensure that I get into at least five townships after five years,” Klaas said.