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Kenyan lady opens lid on how she started cooking business with only Sh600 and why she has never looked back

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Kenyan cook opens lid on how food won her heart and why she has never looked back

Love for cooking

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” – Harriet Van Horne. 

Damaris Oduor knows this saying too well after all her love for cooking runs deep in her veins and there’s nothing she would rather do than cook wholesome healthy meals everyday.

Cooking was her first love and decades later the love for cooking is but only getting stronger with each passing day.

“I started cooking when I was 10yrs old. I used to help my mum a lot around the kitchen and fell in love with food.” Damaris Oduor told Lifestyle Afrique instantly lighting up with joy.

Lifestyle Afrique (LA) had a chat with Damaris Oduor (DO), a cook and budding entrepreneur based in Nairobi to understand how she started cooking to how she is surviving amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here is an excerpt of our conversation.

LA: When did you know you had passion for cooking?

DO: I knew I had a passion for cooking when I realised I used to spend more time cooking than playing and going as far as trying to cook foodstuff I came across or even saw online to see if I could replicate them.

LA: What do you enjoy the most about cooking?

DO: What I love about cooking is that it is an art, what you cook today you can cook tomorrow u in a different way, cooking has so many designs and examples and i love that.

LA: What type of food do you enjoy cooking the most?

DO: I love cooking Chicken and Samosas.

Kenyan lady opens lid on how how she started cooking with only Sh600 and why she has never looked back. (courtesy)

LA: Alright, so how did you start cooking, did you attend cooking schools?

DO: No, I worked as a private teacher at a special school for kids with disabilities way back in 2007 then I moved and got a job as a maid in a house taking care of a baby. My boss was a chef which made me want to become a professional cook even more.

LA: And how did you finally start cooking professionally?

DO: I saved Sh600 and simply bought minced for Sh300, Chapati baking flour for Sh120, Cooking oil for Sh130 and Leeks for Sh50 and I was in business. I started humbly and look at me today (laughs)

LA: Wow that’s awesome. So how long have you been professionally cooking to date?

DO: It’s now 15 good years since I started cooking.

LA: Who are your biggest buyers?

DO: My main buyers are neighbors, relatives and friends on Facebook.

LA: How do you juggle between being a wife, mother and businesswoman?

DO: The secret is having a positive mindset and managing my time well. I split my time between my passion which is cooking and also finding time to take care of my personal responsibilities as a wife and mom. Staying positive is key in ensuring I can handle business challenges and frustrations calmly and with lots of love and understanding.

Kenyan lady opens lid on how how she started cooking with only Sh600 and why she has never looked back. (courtesy)

LA: What is your biggest challenge in this job?

DO: Getting hold of good equipment for the kitchen is hard and very expensive.

LA: What is one thing Covid-19 taught you about business? 

DO: Covid-19 has taught me that you should never depend on one source of income for example employment alone. One should also learn to be humble and work hard always.

LA: Who is your role model, the one person you admire the most in this industry?

DO: I really admire Kenyan Chef Maliha Mohammed. She has a Guinness World record after preparing 400 dishes for 72 hours straight.

Note: California-based chef, Rickey Lumpkin held the record of 68 hours, 30 minutes, 1 second until Maliha came into the picture and smashed it to smithereens.

LA: On a good month how much do you make?

DO: Sh15,000

Kenyan lady opens lid on how how she started cooking with only Sh600 and why she has never looked back. (courtesy)

LA: Are there other side businesses you run apart from cooking?

DO: I keep guinea pigs, chicken which I sell and I also make liquid soap and shampoo which fetches me good money when business is good.

LA: Where do you see yourself in the next 5years?

DO: In the next 5yrs I want to empower more women to get experience in cooking different types of food for them to make a living, that would make me really happy.

LA: Parting shot; What’s your advice to someone who wants to become a cook?

DO: First you should love what you want to be then roll up your sleeves and work hard towards your goal.