If you are in Cape Town and have a desire to experience or learn another culture’s cuisine but can’t afford to travel all the way to that country, well I have the perfect family friend and inspirational business lady, Antonietta aka the Travellin’ Ant.
I got to experience a dinner made from scratch with the freshest and authentic ingredients all accompanied with a Chinese New Year theme to celebrate the Year of the Monkey 2016.
I just had to share her story with you and ask her a couple of questions…
WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS OFFER?
Fun and interactive cooking experiences for children (4 yrs+) and adults. I prefer to call what I offer, ‘experiences‘ rather than classes as it inspires and gives people the confidence to go home and recreate the dishes for their families and host theme dinner parties for their friends. The style of cooking used is ‘oral-and-eye tradition’ instead of specific measurements. No special ingredients or cooking utensils are required!
‘Cookin’ with the Travellin’ Ant’ is all about using everyday ordinary ingredients & basic cooking utensils to create extraordinary food.
I also make picnic hampers, run cooking and baking birthday parties for kids and adults as well as hen/bachelor/bachelorette/team building classes for adults. I’ve recently added Long Table Dining Experiences to my business where I prepare a Theme Related 4 course meal and guests sit around one long table at the Ant Kitchen to enjoy the eating experience.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
I’ve always been passionate about food – being Italian that comes naturally I think – it’s in our genes! I was blessed to have a mom that could cook exceptionally well and not just Italian food. I love entertaining and having dinner parties and often my friends would ask me for the recipes, but when they tried to make the dishes they didn’t come out as good as mine, so I then started to go to their homes and made the dishes with them. Then a friend of mine said that I should perhaps start giving cooking lessons and that is how “Cookin with the Travellin’ Ant” started. I used to pack my car with pots, pans, utensils, all the ingredients etc and off I would go to people’s homes and together we would make the meals. About 3 years ago I converted our bachelor flat into the Ant Kitchen and now I run the classes from there. I have a couple of clients that still prefer me to come to them so I still do some ‘travelling classes’.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO JUGGLE FAMILY AND BUSINESS LIFE?
That’s a tough one. I have three very busy teenagers and a husband who works in the air-conditioning industry that doesn’t work regular office hours at all. So it’s definitely a juggle. But luckily my business is quite flexible and also most of the classes are at night or over the weekends so that frees me up to be available for my children when they need me in the day. I try to take one weekend off a month so that I can then spend some quality time with the family else when it gets very busy, I feel like I hardly see them. One just has to be very disciplined and your children also need to understand that when you are working, you are working and must not be disturbed. That was and is still one of the most challenging aspects for me about working from home because as a parent, one tends to put your family first so it’s a lot easier for me to get things done when they aren’t around.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD?
I enjoy all food that has been prepared well but I do enjoy hot and spicy food so I’d probably say Indian/Middle Eastern/Asian food and then again I could possibly live on peanut butter with mashed banana on twice toasted seeded whole wheat bread with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon! (I blame that on being a Gemini as I have two personalities…one side likes to eat simple things and the other goes for the more exotic!)
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR RECIPES?
I have a HUGE recipe collection that I’ve collected over the years from my mom, my travelling days, my mom-in-law and also from friends and family all over the world. However being the creative person that I am, I only use recipes as a guideline as I hate to be restricted when I cook so I ‘Antify’ them so sometimes the end result is nothing like it should be but often, I feel it is much better sometimes, when I try to recreate that dish – I can’t get it quite right as I can’t remember exactly what I did. I try to make some notes as I go along. So when I structure a class it’s very challenging for me to come up with the recipes, so that is why I encourage people to taste when they are cooking so that they can tweak the recipe to their taste buds.
IF YOU WEREN’T COOKING AND TEACHING PEOPLE HOW TO COOK, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
Probably taking lots of photos and eating, cooking and travelling my way around the world, at the same time trying to uplift people’s lives that are in need. There are SO MANY cuisines and cultures to be discovered – the world would be my oyster!
ANY BUSINESS ADVICE ON STARTING A BUSINESS FROM HOME?
If at first you don’t succeed, try again and again and again.
It’s tough to start something from scratch in a very competitive world. Make sure that you are passionate about your business, if not it will be very difficult to stay motivated when the times are tough and things go wrong. Before you start, make sure you know what you are prepared to sacrifice and how far you are prepared to go in order to become successful so that you don’t over commit yourself. If you have a family or partner that live at home with you, make sure that they respect your working hours and that they know that even though you are at home, they don’t have access to you 24/7. You need to be very disciplined, organised and plan your days accordingly. Lastly, keep on looking for new and different ways of doing things so that you can evolve according to your family and clients’ needs else your business could become stagnant and boring and you could lose your passion as well as your business.
See more pics here.
For more information/bookings please contact Antonietta on:
(+27) 021-5582539 (h)
(+27) 083 367 7826 (Whatsapp® only)
(+27) 061 200 4002 (calls & sms)
and catch up with her on Facebook to get an idea of what goes on in her kitchen!