Chilli Chocolate Chefs, Zainab Kadwa and Faatimah Paruk are causing a sensation with their culinary inventions and are fast establishing themselves as the “Caterers of Choice” for leading companies, corporates and home based functions.
With them in their growing business is Zainab’s husband, Ashraff who is spearheading one innovative marketing campaign after the as the trio are “cleaning up” with their halaal only foods. “Our food is all about taste. We innovate our own dishes and develop menus to suite our clients whether it is major corporates to a single meal. We offer what we call fusion food. We take ingredients from various countries and using Indian spices develop dishes which are different. We specialize in creating new tastes, sensations and meet the demand for discerning customers who want something totally different,” said Zainab.
The trio spoke about their trials, tribulations and successes during an interview on Radio Al Ansaar’s talk show, 90 Minutes. She pointed out that there is an ever-growing demand for halaal food and at one time, companies ordered maybe one or two halaal meals. But now they are asking for all meals to meet Islamic requirements.
Faatimah is the baking expert and her specialty is creating exotic desserts, cakes, sweets and biscuits. “But this does not mean that we change the traditional treats, like the Nan Khatai which I believe is a creation all of its own. Maybe, I can reshape, change sizes and display differently. But the Nan Khatai, remains just that. But there are other creations which I develop and when it is presented to the diner, the taste is always something which they find different,” she said.
This is what it’s says on there website: “Our distinctive cuisine is glamorous, playful, comforting, cosmopolitan and always supremely delicious. It is uniquely created from the freshest ingredients and presented with earthy panache and a contemporary twist. Our food reflects our commitment to exceptional quality.
“All meals are prepared under the guidance of chefs, Zainab and Faatimah. Our funky and creative vision of taking traditional dishes and adding some zing and a dash of difference in every dish has served us well. The uniqueness of our company is that taste and appearance both matter and we take great care in selecting only the best and freshest ingredients and in ensuring that the product tastes as good as it looks! We are an optimistic duo that constantly strives to improve our offerings and place quality, service, customer satisfaction and value to clients as our core priority.”
The sisters embarked on a new project, writing cookbooks after receiving a flood of requests for their special recopies. First came, “Entertain” which contained some of the most popular creation from their kitchen. The demand for copies came fast and with great enthusiasm. They were flattered by the requests for a book, which they felt, was their debut into the printed word. But that prompted them to write another book, “Let’s Cook” and they hit upon a grand idea. If children are to be taught to eat healthily, why not teach them to cook. Zainab and Faatimah got to work and worked on what would be the best recipes which children would find attractive. “We then launched special classes to teach children to cook and before long we were running very busy four hours sessions. The classes were scheduled during the school holidays,” said Faatimah.
Copies of this book were snapped up, especially since parents also found it useful in preparing meals for their families. This led to their third book; “Feast” which turned out to be an instant success and the demand has virtually forced the sisters to consider a second run. Zainab explained that cooking has joined the realm of entertainment for many families, it is no longer a mundane chore, as lifestyles demand a healthy eating culture.
Speaking about Chillie Chocolate’s success, he said that it is somewhat unique in that the sisters were moved out of secular schools around standard 2 (Grade 5) to pursue Islamic studies. “After completing Islamic studies they taught religious classes at different primary schools, such as Berea West Primary. Eventually they decided to “go back to school via correspondence and completed Matric at the age of 21 and 22. (With 5 and 6 distinctions respectively). They then went to chefs school, both financed through their now late grandfather,” he said.
Zainab went to the once prestigious Christina Martin School of Cooking. She performed excellently finishing the year in 2nd place and was asked to stay on to teach at the school. Zainab then left to further her career by working and running many smaller caffes and restaurants, such as F-tv ,Fashion Tv which was located in Umhlanga.
Faatimah went to the Fusion School of Cooking.. Also performed excellently and had several small stints at restaurants and cafes. “It was at this point in time, that they started to cater for friends and family whilst juggling work. The pair soon decided to quit their jobs and launch their own company – calling it: Chilli Chocolate Chefs. A name which symbolises: Their Indian Heritage; Sweet and Savoury fusion food BUT also their personalities,” said Mr Kadwa.
Being a Startup company (home Industry) they have had numerous challenges which they have overcome and pursued excellence to the extent that their brand now has “major status.”
Chillie Chocolate has: Featured as guests on Google Startup Grind Durban. Hosted demonstrations such at shows like Decorex and House & Garden. At leading stores like Hirsch and featured in several blogs, such as the Daily Vox (1 of 10 Muslim Creatives You Need To Know), featured in several newspapers such as The Post, Mercury, Sunday Tribune and Business Report.
The sisters write a monthly piece for the Al Ummah Magazine. Occasional features on radio stations such as: Al Ansaar, Radio Lotus, Salaam Media and Channel Islam. They have launched a confectionary range, which is commanding an ever-growing share of the market. Among their accolades, the sisters have won the Roshgold Young Business Achievers Award 2017.
Farook Khan -90 Minutes – Radio Al-Ansar – 11 May 2018