Slice of life: I cook for men looking for jobs

'They say: 'No, just make us the beef and the spinach and the pap.' But I say: No, you have to get some veggies also.' (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

'They say: 'No, just make us the beef and the spinach and the pap.' But I say: No, you have to get some veggies also.' (Oupa Nkosi/M&G)

I didn’t know anything about food but after I saw my other business grow, I thought I might as well just try it. So I started buying the pots, the stove, everything. And soon business was booming.

One day this white guy, Anthony, came to ask me something. He said: “I’ve been checking out all the restaurants on Louis Botha. I went to many restaurants and I found that this is the best one. Can you cook for me?” I said: “For how many people?”

I was thinking that it would be for just only one. But he said: “No, I want 40 plates.”

We started like that. I’m still cooking for the men looking for jobs.They are always asking why I can’t cook for them every day. And I wish I could. I prefer to cook for these people for free than to sell the food even. I enjoy it because we use the big, big pots and when I dish up, I feel just so great.

Sometimes they go three days with no food. When we go and give them the food, it’s like you could cry if you see how they rush to the food.

I like to cook pap and beef stew for them. And spinach. Even today, you can see from my hands that I was making beetroot and pumpkin. They say: “No, just make us the beef and the spinach and the pap.”

But I say: “No, you have to get some veggies also.”

They don’t like pumpkin, mara I force them to eat it. — Vicky Seboyane, the owner of Vicky’s Restaurant on Louis Botha Avenue, Johannesburg, as told to Sarah Smit. Every Wednesday Vicky and fellow restaurant owner Anthony Sacks come together to feed the unemployed men of Orange Grove.

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit

Sarah Smit both subs and writes for the Mail & Guardian. She joined the M&G after completing her master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Cape Town. She is interested in the literature of the contemporary black diaspora and its intersection with queer aesthetics of solidarity. Her recent work considers the connections between South African literary history and literature from the rest of the Continent. Read more from Sarah Smit

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