Food Cycle, the nutrition education initiative started by award-winning chef David Higgs, in conjunction with the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy (DMA), has opened a kitchen at Northern Farm Nature Reserve in Johannesburg.
Dubbed The Luncheon, the kitchen has two functions: firstly, it serves as a coffee shop for members of the public. (The nature reserve has over 2500ha of grasslands, woodlands and several dams, which are enjoyed by recreational cyclists, horse riders, hikers and birders.) Its second purpose is to provide meals for ±200 children of Diepsloot, who form part of the DMA and ride on the farm on weekends.
A kitchen like The Luncheon has been in David’s mind since he started his Food Cycle initiative last year. (Read more about it here.) He wanted to create a self-sustainable platform for youngsters from previously disadvantaged communities to enter the restaurant industry.
He sowed the seeds in 2014, when, in partnership with The Saxon Hotel (where he is executive chef for Five Hundred), he took on two boys from Diepsloot as chefs in training. After a year of practical experience, Tsepo Nyirenda and Tendani Mahole have started their theoretical chef’s course to obtain a diploma in cooking. David is confident that Tsepo and Tendani, along with four other girls from Diesploot, are now equipped to run The Luncheon on their own. The coffee-shop side of the business will help fund the meals for the DMA riders.
“It’s really just basic breakfasts, burgers and toasted sandwiches for now,” says David. “It will grow, but it’s only open weekends, so we have to avoid waste.”
The aim is to continuously train new youngsters in the skills required to run a successful kitchen, including stock-taking, cooking, ordering, cleaning and customer service. The long-term goal is for those with experience to move into the restaurant industry.
How can you get involved in The Luncheon and the Food Cycle initiative? “Product donations always help,” says David. “And time at the farm to work with us and grow the project…”
Visit the Food Cycle website, foodcycle.co.za, for more information.