“The kitchen is not only for serving food but also for interaction and connecting with different types of people, cultures and religions. We love what we do and all our meals are prepared and made with love which makes us unique and special.” – Angeline about the essence of the Muiz Kitchen
A treasure hidden by the backdrops of the Muizenberg Mountain is probably the most welcoming kitchen you’ll find. The Muiz Kitchen is where the phrase, “for the community, by the community” could never be more unquestionably true.
In March last year, the Muiz Kitchen swung into action as an emergency response for food security as COVID-19 surfaced throughout South Africa. With the help of an abundance of volunteers, the community kitchen served about 200 to 300 people per day. However, as COVID-19 seemed to die down, so did the funding needed to support the project. Yet despite this, the passion to provide wholesome food for those in need never dwindled.
This year, the core team of Angeline, Claire, Michael, Leanne, and Sandi needed to find a way for the kitchen to become self-sustainable. With the support of volunteers and friends, they didn’t find just one way, but multiple ways to evolve and maintain their vigour. The first layer of this initiative, the one that people see initially, are the meals. For those who are unsure where they will be getting their next meal from, they can bring a container to the Community Gardens to fill with nutritious nosh for the low price of R15. For those looking for a delicious plant-based sit-down meal, they can pop down to 150 Main Road in Muizenberg and pay R50. This, in turn, helps to subsidise the meals provided at the garden.
An example of the tasty plant-based meals served at 150 Main Road, Muizenberg.
It doesn’t stop with the meals themselves as the Muiz Kitchen has introduced its own currency, the Muiz Coin. You can buy a coin and spend it on a meal at the Community Garden, or you can donate your coin to someone who needs it. This creates a system where you can give responsibly, knowing that they will receive a nutritious meal sourced locally.
The Muiz Coin in action at the Muizenberg Community Gardens.
Each lunch is an enormous production, and it couldn’t be done without a committed crew. Often, volunteers can be found vibrantly preparing meals behind the scenes. The support the Muizenberg Kitchen gets from volunteers is fundamental to the nature of the space. Michael shared the sentiment that “if our hopes of building a better community kitchen and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.”
However, things would never be accomplished without the core team. Claire paints the team as one without a hierarchy, but instead, a unit who know their roles and how they fit together to make it all happen. This strong group of people creates an incredible atmosphere where anyone is invited to connect and meet new people.
The team who makes it all happen. From left to right: Angeline, Michael, Sandi, and Claire.
Aside from the delicious meals, the Muiz Kitchen has a myriad of other services that allows anyone to access locally produced food. Catering has been another endeavour this year, where the team has catered for anything from workshops, birthday parties, book launches, and even two weddings. Muiz Kitchen has branched out in many directions to further Muizenberg and the surroundings. Having to isolate? Get delicious frozen meals and immune boosting care packs delivered. Want to create your own healthy meals? Order veggie boxes that can be delivered to you by bike. It seems that they have an answer for everything, and if they don’t, they soon will.
To illustrate, last week the kitchen had a fish braai, hosted by Angeline. This shows the potential for a supper club where each week people could gather and create food from a variety of themes and places. Even better, it could be used as a time to celebrate not only food, but indigenous flavours and foods.
Fresh veggie boxes, care packs, and the package-free conscious pantry – only a few of the marvellous things offered by the Muizenberg Kitchen.
Producing masses of food is something that often leads to masses of waste. Luckily, this is not the case in the Muiz Kitchen. Any raw scraps left from food preparation goes right back into the Community Garden to create compost. The Community Garden uses compost to nourish the plants that will grow into fresh vegetables. Those vegetables are harvested and transformed into the food served at the kitchen. An elegant cycle to become zero-waste. On a more entrepreneurial note, the kitchen has a Conscious Pantry where people can buy package-free goods. Not only does this assist with promoting less waste, but the shop supports the kitchen as well.
Although it is primarily a kitchen, they offer more than just food. Workshops about nutritious and plant-based eating are often available for the community. And with the recent collaboration with Amava Oluntu, the Muiz Kitchen is going to create a learning space for the youth. Those who want to become young entrepreneurs will have a space where they can learn about retail, business, and bookkeeping. With a team that has such extensive knowledge, both business and creatively, the Muiz Kitchen will provide the ideal space to hone in on these skills.
Sandi so aptly summed up, “Throughout the year, the dedication of everyone involved – the volunteers, donors, supporters – allows us to continue what we are doing on a daily basis. At times, it’s both stressful and exciting, but most importantly it is an extremely rewarding thing to do. I am so happy that I am part of this. It just feels right. Not only am I serving the community, I am also taking care of Mother Earth.”
Although this year often seemed unforgiving, the strength and commitment of everyone involved allowed the Muiz Kitchen to thrive. Like many others, the Muiz Kitchen is looking forward to what the next year will bring, with new ideas, projects, and continuing to build an adaptive and resilient kitchen.
As Sandi says, “At the end of the day, knowing that my small contribution makes a huge difference in the lives of those we serve.”