Hospitality was one of the industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. What was a chef, who was used to being busy and on his feet, to do while restaurants and hotel were shut?
Naturally, Mzwandile Hector Mnyayiza, better known as Chef Hector, spent more time whipping up delicious meals in his own kitchen at home, which he and his wife shared these on their social media accounts.
The drool-worthy posts caught the attention of their friends and family and before long, a friend asked Chef Hector to sell him one the meals he prepared. When lockdown regulations eased a little, that’s exactly what he did. That friend then took to his social networks to share his experience with Chef Hector and soon enough, more and more requests for meals were coming in, and Chef Hector’s Table was born.
In addition to delivering meals, Chef Hector also started offering private dinners as an alternative for those who wanted to celebrate a special occasion while restaurants were closed.
The business was growing into a full-time commitment, so when hotels reopened their doors, it became difficult for Chef Hector to juggle his job and the business. He realised that running his own business was what he really wanted to do, so he resigned from his executive chef position and made Chef Hector’s Table official.
As a small business, cash flow has been the biggest challenge. Running a business in catering, Chef Hector explains, requires cash to purchase products and hire additional hands to help with bigger events. But the struggles have come with huge rewards. Chef Hector has upskilled people while growing his business and offered temporary employment to some of his contacts in hospitality who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
What’s his recipe for success? “Good customer service and social media have played a big role,” he says. Chef Hector advises up-and-coming chefs to build their brands on social networks. He adds: “I rely a lot on the people I service to tag me and thank me. I am passionate about what I do, and it shows on every plate that I serve.”
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