“I have loved food for as far back as I can remember. All my fondest childhood memories are in some way connected to either preparing or enjoying it,” says Hannat Nabadda.
She is a classic example of one turning their passion into a career. “I love what I do. ‘The Food Library’ is a representation of my work as a food and pastry chef, and I wanted to share that with people,” she explains.
The Food Library is a one-woman shop, with an online address. She communicates with the clients on social media and by phone, taking their orders, prepares the meals and delivers them.
The motivation for the 28-year-old is to always deliver something that will be appreciated, by one person or the other and to do so creatively.
Her love for food started by her learning how to cook. As a child, along with her siblings, she would wake up early on Sunday mornings to help out in the kitchen as her mother prepared the family’s breakfast.
“It did not matter if you were too short to reach the kitchen counter, you had the option of climbing on a stool. And although I am sure I would have preferred to stay in bed or watch cartoons, I extremely enjoyed everything about being in that kitchen,” she recounts.
In professionalising her passion, the choice of pursuing a course that would complement her enterprise was ideal. She did a bachelor’s degree in international business at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) which she completed in 2013.
Immediately after the merry-making moments on graduation day, she enrolled for an online catering course with speciality in pastry and food production and preparation at the Capsicum Culinary Studio in a South Africa (SA) for a period of two years.
During her industrial training, Nabadda was trained by chef Paul Bain at the five-star Boardwalk Hotel in Port Elizabeth South Africa as well as chef Craig Cormack of the Goose Roasters in Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands.
Food library idea
For the while, her plan and aspiration was to start a business enterprise under which she would create a food library, an idea akin to letting consumers making a choice of what they wanted to have and get a professional prepare and deliver it.
“I could go into a library and travel back in time by reading a book on Uganda’s cultural history, or I could travel to France by picking up a fictional tale based in Paris, and all those could inspire and satisfy me. There’s a whole world inside a library. I wanted the same thing for my business but through food,” Nabadda explains.
Nabadda the chef
She works as a private chef. She can bring the fine dining experience of a restaurant to the comfort of your home or location of your choice, full with waiter service, tableware and cutlery.
She will even do the dishes after words. At the month, The Food Library has two ongoing monthly events, one in partnership with Uganda Wines and Spirits Wine shop located on Windsor loop.
‘Taste’ features a blind tasting of three wines accompanied with six tapas curated by the chef. The other is dubbed Cinco Cinco which takes place at The Terrace Cocktail and Tapas bar. A reveller pairs five cocktails and five tapas.
On the sweet side, she makes cream sponge cakes in addition to other pastries, brownies, cupcakes, éclairs, and doughnuts.
A sizable cake costs Shs120,000 while cupcakes, brownies, doughnuts and other pastries go for an average of Shs50,000. For private catering, she charges Shs100,000.
The prices vary depending on a customer’s choice of product in relation to menus. These are available only on order.
Her recollection does not serve her right with figures of how much she invested in starting the culinary library but it was not much. She had enough to buy ingredients and make a cake. She made one and made sure it was a nice one, banking on the prospect of the customers enjoying it. They did and started ordering for more. She was set on a course of commercialising her childhood hobby. The beginning is pretty much the way she currently run her show, only more organised. It has been four years and she still enjoys her lone journey. “I still schedule enough time for myself to do the baking, the deliveries, the shopping and everything else that needs to be done. With time you find or create a system that works for you and your business,” she observes.
People’s feedback and appreciation has been overwhelming. She feels truly blessed. Her clients include anyone interested in good food and cake. To maintain her clientele, she strives to deliver on time and to her best ability with each individual order she receives.
With that, she hopes to get better, day by day. The principles and work ethics upon which she anchors her business is delivering the service as she would like it to be delivered to her, which is in the best possible way.
The entrepreneurial journey of running business has taught her to be patient; to take her time because she believes that she is her only competition. That is not to say she has not made mistakes.
There have been several. What remains important is to learn from each one of them in order to improve and do better so that they won’t be repeated. Her advice to anyone looking to start an initiative like hers, is ‘do everything with your heart in it, big or small. One of the highlights of her career is serving as a judge at this year’s Speke groups inter chef competition.
On her wish list, is opening up a location for The Food Library that serves as both a restaurant and also a learning place for people interested in expanding their kitchen skills, whether for purposes of home cooking or for use in the culinary industry.
She would also like to cook with and for some of the most inspiring chefs and people and to see substantial and consistent growth in the Culinary Industry here in Uganda.