Changing the narrative through food, music and culture

Co-founders of The Hood Kitchen, Anwar Arendse and his wife Gabriella holding their daughter, will be hosting their very first The Hood Fest on Saturday July 1.

A young Rocklands chef did not anticipate the magnitude of how food would inspire him to serve the community.

Before starting The Hood Kitchen in 2019, with his wife Gabriella, 28, Anwar Arendse, 27, worked in a call centre and saw great potential out of this experience. However, it was never enough, he said.

He has always had a passion for food. “I’ve learnt cooking skills through my father, André Arendse. He is very spontaneous when it comes to his dishes as he is always cooking at home. I have been cooking food dishes since primary school,” he said.

A former pupil of Seaview Primary School and Spine Road High School, both in Rocklands, Mr Arendse studied coaching science at the Exercise and Training Academy College, but later dropped out as he discovered this was not what he wanted to do.

He was a commis chef in 2015 at a hotel, where he was at the “bottom of the food chain”. “I had to do all the dirty work, cleaning and preparing for the actual chef to do their work,” he said.

“They dropped me and said I was not good enough. I ended up in the call centre and had to work my way up. I later then left the call centre and started my own food project and business initiative in 2019,” he said.

At the call centre he used to sell burgers, which got those who liked it encouraging Mr Arendse to sell them.

The Arendse couple started The Hood Kitchen via Facebook, selling their signature burgers and takeaway food while highlighting the positive things happening on the Cape Flats – giving artists, business owners, community workers, people that had a positive impact on the community a chance to share their story with the world by hosting weekly interviews with people.

Mr Arendse said he had to overcome many personal challenges, including the loss of his brother and sister. “I’ve been held at gunpoint, I sold drugs, I got locked up – I made some big money fast, lost some, lived my life on the edge, almost killed myself, almost got killed, moved with the wrong crowd of people… The list goes on and on, however, this taught me to appreciate what you have as life comes at you fast,” he said.

Ms Arendse said her husband has a passion for the community, especially the youth and it shows. “He is a positive role model in the community and goes above and beyond to keep youth away from the streets and would always talk to them about how much more life has to offer,” she said.

Mr Arendse said food is his “love language”. “Something that will always live rent-free in my mind, which my parents drilled me on is, ‘You’re a leader, not a follower’. They really taught me how to be independent, humble and to always encourage the next person. This I use as a strong foundation to build the person I am today,” he said.

He is involved with youth football tournaments, as well as encouraging artists to use their talents to their full potential.

They will be hosting their first 90s Hip-Hop themed, “The Hood Fest” on Saturday July 1 at Spine Road High School at 4pm.

“I have always wanted to bring the community together through food but it is way bigger than that. I want to bring the community together every month so that we can create opportunities for others. We are going to change the negative narrative on the Cape Flats through music, food and culture,” Mr Arendse said.

The Hood Fest, co-hosted by Ricky Remo, will include live performances by artists such as Young OG CPT, KNine Die Hond, KroBarz, M Joyner, Kno & Jodas, among others and will have food from top-rated local vendors and locally sourced streetwear. Tickets are available from Quicket. For more information, text or call the organisers on WhatsApp on 084 381 2511.