Written by Tatenda Mark
Refilwe Tselanyane is a self-taught chef and baker who, despite many odds, made it to become a MasterChef South Africa Finalist and successful food cuisine business owner of RT Good Eats.
Refilwe grew up with a mother who loved being in the kitchen. “My relationship with baking started when I used to steal flour from my mom to make wonderful recipes from magazines. She taught me all the culinary basics at a young age. I fell in love with the kitchen and mastered the art of baking at the age of 14.”
Encouraged by her mother, her food business started with two cups of flour, which she used to make muffins that she would sell at a train station. “Employment was scarce then, and my business became our little source of income.” During that time, she took it upon herself to experiment with different cuisines in the kitchen and from there RT Good Eats was born.
Her road to success was far from easy. “My mom had a stroke and the little that I was bringing to the table was not enough. I had to make a choice of closing down the business and searching for a stable income.”
She found herself a job as a sales consultant at a bank and decided to work full-time and run her business, coming home at 6 pm from work to bake client orders and going to bed late. She would have to wake up at as early as 4 am to bath and feed her mom, then go to the bank for her 8 am to 5 pm shift. “When she passed on in 2014, I resigned from the bank and followed my dream, as food is my passion.”
Her venture focuses on catering to small groups instead of the masses. “Whether it’s dinner, business or just for leisure, I’ll be there. My menus are custom designed to suit the occasion, and usually range from 2 to 6 courses. I am based in Carletonville, Gauteng, but I travel to where my clients need me.”
She admits that she is still learning new things about the business side of running her company. “I wish I knew more about target markets and market research as I realize that those two make or break your business.”
One of her beliefs is that you must first invest in your own idea to test if it is viable, before you ask others to invest in it. “I funded my own business because I believe that if I have R1.00 I should find ways to make it R1.50 the following day. Then I can ask for funding to expand the business not to start it.”
Very few people would have ever predicted that a business that started off selling muffins at train stations would lead Refilwe to her biggest achievement of being a MasterChef South Africa Top 10 finalist in 2014. “I still pinch myself, cause I’m afraid I might wake up from a dream. Being a Top 10 finalist on MasterChef South Africa has opened so many doors for me.”
Tatenda Mark is the Founder of alumnivalley.com, an online platform that supports, features and promotes entrepreneurs, ranging from small business owners, activists to artists. alumnivalley.com aims to empower, support and inspire people who follow their true passion, and believes that these are truly the minds that will change the world. For more stories and information, visit alumnivalley.com and be sure to like us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/alumnivalley. Any questions? Please feel free to email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.