Nicola Kagoro, a.k.a. Chef Cola, is a pioneering Zimbabwean award winning 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 great benefits- both nutritional and environmental. 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 and give people the tools and knowledge to actively integrate plant-based eating into their lifestyles.
Chef Cola’s cooking is African inspired with elements of Western cuisine as well. Having spent her childhood in New York City, where her diplomat mother worked at the time, her worldview and work ethic has been influenced by time there as well as Cape Town where, while working at PLANT restaurant, she was introduced to veganism and began to train in plant-based cooking. Her work is truly dynamic and pioneering, spanning several exciting projects. She works with private clients, from corporate 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 African women in Zimbabwe and Cape Town to help improve their sewing skills. She also worked with the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) and AKASHINGA “Back to Black Roots”- a pioneering vegan conservation program front 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 program is vegan and is a vehicle for building strong, respected ambassadors to drive a plant-based movement from the community level of rural Africa. Chef Cola serves was the Excutive Chef and Project Manager for the kitchen until 2022 , preparing entirely vegan meals and ration packs for the female anti-poaching ranger force. Dinner with Chef Cola is a mobile dining concept currently based in Harare and Cape Town and slated to expand to other African cities as well as globally during Chef Cola’s travels. The theme for Dinner with Cola is always African inspired, preparing dishes that present the beauty of plant-based African culture and cuisine. The mission of the dinner event is to introduce people to vegan food and lifestyle and to further inspire those already familiar with veganism with her own brand of plant-based cooking. 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 toward her core mission of helping people understand that they can enjoy delicious vegan cooking on a budget.
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.
1. What’s your biggest achievement / Something you’re proud of yourself for?
“I recently won an award by 50Next in Gastronomy as a top Vegan trailblazer and activists. The ceremony was in Spain and it was my first time in Europe and also being recognized on a world stage it made me very proud. https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/50-next-2022-full-list
2. What’s your biggest fear / something that holds you back?
“Not being able to relate to my peers because they feel my achievements are unattainable. I always worry people close to me may think I’m untouchable as I continue on my journey to become a celebrity vegan chef.”
3. What’s your biggest contribution / Something you like to share?
“I am currently in the process of building Zimbabwe first ever vegan kitchen and training facility that is free for all to come and learn about the vegan lifestyle. Wether you are vegan or not.”
4. Fun Facts:
“ before I became a chef I was a top female Dj. My stage name was Dj StiBo.“
Thank you for being you!
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