Kota Royalty: I know I’m going to nail the Kota Festival

The signature Kota at the shop.

I saw a gap and an opportunity in my community and since at home they already had a kota business, I wanted to take it to the next level last year after my father handed the business to me,” said Rhulani Shibambor now owner of Kota Kings in Protea Glen.

The 22-year-old has managed to get tongues wagging on social media with what he calls gourmet kotas that he’s been selling to his customers since he took over the family business.

“After matriculating in 2013 I got an opportunity to study with the International Hotel School in Sandton; I completed one year of food and beverage services and I also had the opportunity to do in-service training at the same time,” said Shibambor.

While doing his in-serve, he was exposed to a catering company that had big contracts like the Durban July that catered for 7000 people and that’s when he had a lightbulb moment about starting his own business.

After his training, he founded Paradise Boutique Cuisine (a catering company) through funding from NYDA that assisted him in acquiring a mobile kitchen situated just outside his family home.

His dream was crushed when the Shibambor family woke up to the kitchen going missing on the premises which then led to Rhulani working in the family business.

When Shibambor’s father decided to hand over the reigns of the franchise in 2015, his juices began flowing on how he could make the winning formula even better with customers in Protea Glen.

“I applied what I learnt when I was studying to what is already being done at home; most people are operating a business like this is in a small low-income area.

“Now we are changing the concept and we serve it with plates and we garnish them because the presentation is key with our kotas so that’s in the hospitality and culinary space so it gives me a good feeling making good food for the people.”

Shibambor highlighted how young adults go and study in good schools then acquire jobs in high-income areas, but he wanted to bring his skills back home to add value to his community as well.

The entrepreneur’s skills do not end in his residential area as he participates in various functions across Soweto that boast good food and that’s when organiser of the Kota Festival, Sidwell Tshingilane, approached him to participate in the inaugural event.

Defying the norm of the ‘traditional kota’, Shibambor’s toasted bread, beef patties, ribs etc. additions to his kota sure has made an impression on locals and visitors in Soweto.

“We have taken that kota to the next level by calling it gourmet so that it can fit into Sandton lifestyle now in order to shake the negative connotations attached to it.”

After market research, the support of his family and a pilot project of original sauces underway the young chef is confident that nobody in Soweto can compete with him when it comes to making Kotas.

“When you come here you are not coming to buy a kota but you’re buying a real taste experience, something that you’ve never had before with a local flavour with sauces that have natural ingredients.”

Shibambor can’t wait to upstage Winnies Tuckshop from Tembisa that he is truly the kota king in SA.

“Thank you for the support, we really appreciate it from when we were still based in the kitchen and now we are hitting to a franchise group in the country; the bigger it gets the more we can uplift our community,” concluded Shibambor.

The Kota King wants to add a little more flavour with their pilot sauces.

Rhulani Shibambor and Agnes Sonopo.

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Sphindile Mbatha

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