Chef Cola (Zimbabwe) Feature
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
As a vegan in Africa, it is highly likely that you’ve heard of Chef Cola. The Vegan Africa Fund was excited to ask this renowned chef some questions in order to do this feature blog post. Like many vegans in Africa, her story is inspiring and captivating.
Nicola Kagoro, a.k.a. Chef Cola, is a pioneering female Zimbabwean vegan chef at the helm of African Vegan on a Budget. Founded in 2016, African Vegan on a Budget was developed to showcase Chef Cola’s cuisine and culinary development as well as to actively promote the reality that people can thrive on a healthy vegan and plant-based diet on a budget.
Chef Cola is a hospitality management graduate whose path and journey took her not only to veganism, but also to being on the culinary frontlines of presenting vegan food and lifestyle in Africa and advocating its environmental and health benefits. One of Chef Cola’s primary aims through her work with African Vegan on a Budget is to spread awareness of vegan culture across Africa, to give people the tools and knowledge to actively integrate plant-based eating into their lifestyles.
Chef Cola’s cooking is African-inspired combined with elements of Western cuisine. She spent her childhood in New York City, where her diplomat mother worked at the time. Chef Cola’s work ethic has been influenced by time there and in Cape Town where, while working at PLANT restaurant, she was introduced to veganism and was trained in plant-based cooking.
Chef Cola’s work is dynamic and pioneering, spanning several exciting projects. She works with private clients, from corporations to individuals, who want to learn more about vegan cooking. She has launched a line of customized African Inspired Chef Jackets made in Zimbabwe with a portion of proceeds donated to underprivileged, young women in Zimbabwe and Cape Town to help improve their sewing skills.
In 2021 Chef Cola founded Chef Cola’s African Inspired Kitchens, a community-developed project that develops plant-based kitchens in Rural and Urban Zimbabwe. Chef Cola says she is greatly inspired by anyone making a positive contribution to the world. Her brand, ‘African Vegan on a Budget’ started as a way to go back to her roots as she is a strong believer that plant-based eating originates from the Motherland, Africa.
Among the inspiring activities that Chef Cola does, one with immense recognition is her work with the AKASHINGA ‘Back to Black Roots’ and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). Chef Cola works as the Executive Chef in a pioneering vegan conservation program consisting entirely of female rangers. AKASHINGA is a scalable, community-driven conservation model empowering disadvantaged women to restore and manage a network of wilderness areas as an alternative to trophy hunting. The vegan program is a vehicle for building strong, respected ambassadors to drive a plant-based movement from the community level of rural Africa. Over five years, Chef Cola has trained a team of eight chefs, all from rural Zimbabwe, on how to professionally make plant-based diets.
Another of Chef Cola’s ventures is the ‘Dinner with Chef Cola’ series, which over 200 people have experienced. Dinner with Chef Cola is a mobile dining concept based in Harare and Cape Town, slated to expand to other African cities and globally. The theme for Dinner with Cola is always African-inspired. The mission of the dinner event is to introduce people to vegan food and lifestyle and to further inspire those already familiar with veganism. The dinner series are motivated by environmental concern, raising the themes of sustainability and consumption while creating an event for people to relax, network and learn. Through the dinners, Chef Cola also works towards her core mission of helping people understand that they can enjoy delicious vegan cooking on a budget.
Chef Cola’s favorite thing about being vegan is that it has opened her up to an in-depth dietary history of Africa as well as insight into how her ancestors were able to live long and healthy lives. It is her mission to revive this into modern-day Africa while being able to educate people on better ways of living using indigenous foods.
Aside from veganism, Chef Cola runs the Rainbow Friendly Festival in Cape Town. The event is an LGBTQI event that showcases national and international talent in Africa. Chef Cola is also a serial entrepreneur.
Get to know Chef Cola further!
“What’s your favorite meal to prepare?” Beet Wellington served with a Balsamic Reduction and Green Summer Salad.
“What’s something you could eat everyday and never get bored of?” Vegan Nachos
“What’s the biggest myth about veganism that you’d like to see corrected?” That veganism is not for people of color. This is because we have been programmed to believe that meat is wealth.
“Do you have any tips for prospective vegans?” Use social media for inspiration. We live in the 21st Century, there is an overflow of information about transitioning to a plant-based diet. Seek advice from professional health practitioners before you begin to change your diet.