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Pepper and Stew: African cuisine made easy

LIVING THE DREAM: Bringing Africa to the table

AN IT manager with a passion for food is on a mission to take African cooking mainstream by creating quick and simple sauces and recipe kits.

Racquel Mafura-Roberts, 32, originally from Zimbabwe, came up with the idea of Pepper and Stew in 2009.

She said: “I was cooking meals such as Jollof rice for my family and because the dish is West African, they would often ask me how I made it, so I started thinking about making a sauce, which could be used.”

Mafura-Roberts explored the business idea and launched Pepper and Stew in April 2011, which she runs with her husband George.

The sauces come with instructions and are available on the website and in various shops as well as delicatessens in London and around the UK.

The couple also run a stall at Maltby Market in Bermondsey, south London.

Mafura-Roberts said: “We still have full-time jobs, so can only go to the market every other weekend to sell our sauces and kits. People are really interested in what we are selling and will often say ‘oh we’ve never seen this before’, which draws them to the stall and encourages them to try something new.”

Her vision is to make the products more accessible and is in talks with two major supermarket chains to stock the sauces.

She said: “Their response has been positive. In the meantime we are selling on our website, but it’s quite expensive to package and post the items out.”

Pepper and Stew appeared on a programme called Cook to Market, which aired on Sky Living last summer. And as a result of being nominated for the BBC Good Food Show Producer Bursary, Pepper and Stew is showcasing their products at NEC Birmingham this week until today (June 16). The company is also working on BBQ sauces and vinaigrettes that will include indigenous African ingredients and spices.

She added: “I’ve always wanted to have my own business, so it’s a dream. I enjoy it, but at times it can be overwhelming, so when you get a comment from a customer who says they like your sauces it makes it all worthwhile. It’s an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen in the future.”

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