Born in the Eastern Cape and raised in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha (South Africa’s third largest township) Sindiso Joya has taken it upon himself to take braaing to a whole new level in the UK.
Sindiso has been living in the UK for nearly ten years since moving there in 2005. With his Jamaican business partner Xavier Martin he’s started a barbecue business that is going from strength to strength. The dynamic duo goes by the name “Braai Kings” and caters at various gatherings, fusing Jamaican and South African braaing styles. TheSouthAfrican caught up with Sindiso to chat to him about what motivates him to cook up the perfect chop and much more
Where did you guys meet and what inspired the idea?
Xavier and I met at my wedding; his wife is friends with my wife. About a month later I was out in town, and there he was in the same club. I’d say that is when our friendship started to form. Well, we are both from hot countries, and having a braai is just common practice for us. So when the sun came out in the summer, we started having braai at my place for family and friends. After having to host about 50 guests from different backgrounds for my housewarming/baby shower, the success and feedback we got from this event drove us to turning our hobby into a business.
How is life in the UK?
Life in the UK is great but there’s no place like home. I’ve just had a baby girl and we named her Thandiwe Ruby Joya. I just can’t wait to start teaching her Xhosa (my Mother Tongue). We figured that if we can’t be in our home countries all the time, we can at least create a home away from home with the food we cook and the music we listen to.
Braaing is a South African tradition and you guys are from two different cultures, being South African and Jamaican. How do you infuse the two backgrounds into something people enjoy?
As we are both from hot climate countries with a braaing culture, we’ve decided to use this to our advantage. Jamaica is famous for its Jerk Chicken Cook Out, mainly done by vendors on a 55 gallon drum cut in half, creating what’s commonly known as a jerk pan. The flavouring we use is usually new to the taste buds of most of our clients, as we use both South African and Jamaican marinades and combine the braaing techniques. The combination of the two is what people enjoy about our service.
How have people received you?
So far most of the people we’ve catered for had been friends and family. Our most recent client was rather interesting, as we had to cater for over 100 people, which we’ve never done before. The reception from this particular job gave us a big boost; they were a lot of compliments and people coming back for more. Our biggest compliment was when people were taking our food away with them to their homes.
What stands out as the highlight of your careers i.e. events you have catered for?
We recently catered for an event, which was held by the a gentleman on behalf a South African high school choir (Dloko High School) from Durban, who were performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. These kids had never been out of Durban/Mlazi, never mind getting on a flight to Edinburgh. This for us was a big honour and privilege. The smiles on those children’s faces gave us the impression that we’re not just doing a good job but that we are also bringing happiness into their lives. A percentage of our profit was donated to Jabulani Project, which helped the children get to Edinburgh, which definitely made for another highlight from this event.
What kind of events do you cater for, and what has been the response from people who have attended these events?
We do outdoor private parties, whether they are work dos, birthday parties or charity events. We have recently been asked to cater for a wedding, so that is still on the pipeline and will be a first for us. We aim to get business through word of mouth, and so far practically all our business has come from that. People who attend our events tell their friends about us.
What is your signature dish?
Chakalaka, lamb chops in our homemade spicy BBQ sauce and Jamaican jerk chicken.
Is what you do a hobby or are there any future plans for the business?
We started it as a hobby and now they are future business plans for what we do. We are aiming to have a braai Stand for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which lasts for the whole of August, and in the future we would like to have a mobile braai truck. So if there’s anyone out there who would like to sponsor us that would be really great. But joking aside, we truly enjoy what we do. I was once told “If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.”
Any plans to replicate what you do outside of the UK, in South Africa or Jamaica maybe?
For now our focus is the UK. We are taking baby steps, as we want this to become a replicable business around the UK. We would one day love to have this business in our home countries, and we pray that the day comes sooner rather than later.
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