Everything you need to know about the Western Cape’s new kitchen incubator
Later this year the V&A Waterfront will launch something new called Makers Landing at the Cape Town Cruise terminal. It will be an incubator for the local food industry, championing small business development and facilitating skills sharing to drive innovation and foster new business in South Africa’s food ecosystem.
The programme, in partnership with the National Treasury’s Job Fund, is now accepting applications for the Western Cape’s first kitchen incubator programme. Food24 chatted to Tinyiko Mageza, the executive manager of marketing at the V&A Waterfront, to find out more.
How does Makers Landing fit in with your current food ecosystem? (existing restaurants, V&A Food market and the Oranjezicht City Farm Market)
Makers Landing is intended as a complementary offering within the V&A Waterfront’s food landscape. Its purpose is unique in that it was conceptualised to create a food community that is a platform for aspiring and established food entrepreneurs to learn, share, innovate and grow their passions. This will be done in a number of ways.
- A unique kitchen incubator where people or small businesses who have great ideas for new food products, offerings or restaurant concepts will have access to coaching and mentoring within the community. The food incubator will have a commercial kitchen that they can utilise in order to produce products to scale. There will also be a six-month intensive cohort programme where they are mentored by chefs and people with business skills, where they are assisted to commercialise their product or move into a pop-up restaurant offering. The aim is to give small businesses a chance to get their foot in the door, lower the barriers to entry and develop a pipeline of the next restaurant ideas and products. The V&A has experience with this kind of programme already, with the Watershed, in which small creative business have a chance to try out their concept in a commercial environment before moving into their own brick-and-mortar stores.
- State-of-the-art large-scale production facilities. Food production is central to Makers Landing, which is a celebration of the journey from farms and fishing boats to the table. Makers Landing will not be a deli experience. Instead, visitors can see fishmongers, still in their overalls, filleting their catch from that morning. They can watch butchers deboning carcasses and grinding meat for their sausages. They can watch gin being distilled and bread being kneaded and prepared for ovens. Additionally, seasonal vegetables and herbs will be delivered every day, fresh from farms.
- In addition to the Kitchen Incubator and production facilities aimed at driving innovation and growing small businesses, there will be a Kitchen Studio and Event Space that allows for the sharing of knowledge and showcasing South African food skills and heritage. Maker’s spaces, market stalls and eateries provide opportunities for insight into food production end-to-end and provide tiered access for tenants and a new authentic place for locals to visit and dwell.
How is this project going to appeal to locals versus foreign tourists?
First and foremost, Makers Landing is for locals and by locals. It is a space that is representative, accessible and inclusive. As a community that builds up local businesses, our table extends to anyone who has a food story to tell or who simply delights in the South African Food Journey. This is the place to celebrate our food diversity and heritage, which locals can be proud of and tourists can be steeped in our authentic culture through food. The space opens up to industry and also to the public. We have a sincere focus on affordability catering for friends and families around the city and ensuring that the 23,000 people who work and live at the V&A Waterfront can enjoy a tasty, locally made affordable meal on their lunch breaks.
Is the Kitchen Incubator accessible to anyone that applies?
The Kitchen Incubator is targeted at young aspiring food entrepreneurs who have previously been disadvantaged but have a concept and idea that has commercial potential, is innovative and unique. The programme curriculum itself will touch on business fundamentals like consumer segmentation, packaging, branding, sales and marketing, and accounting. Six entrepreneurs will be selected for the first cohort and every six months a new cohort will be selected as the first one moves up. After the initial six months of training, participants will still have access to the shared kitchen facility, certain content, master classes and mentors, but at a different rental rate. As their businesses scale up, it will become more cost effective for them to have their own space.
How will the V&A facilitate the incubator?
A curatorial panel (separate to the panel that will curate the general tenant mix for Makers Landing) will select the incubator start-ups who will participate in the Kitchen Incubator programme. This programme is done in collaboration with Stellenbosch University’s food science department and Launch Lab.
How will the V&A aim to make Makers Landing inclusive and diverse in its programme?
Tenants will be assessed by a curatorship panel made up of industry experts but also by a truly representative group of people – mixed races, genders and cultures. This team measures tenants on various criteria, including transformation policies, diversity, sustainability, commerciality and credibility. The end goal is to democratise who gets to be part of Maker’s Landing, but also to provide the very best chance of eventual success. The mix will include communities that have previously been marginalised but will also boast some more established names/brands that are also looking to launch or start afresh. In a unique approach to mentorship and fostering young talent, tenants will be asked to contribute and “give back” to the space through things like workshops, demos, internships, etc. The theme of mutual support and collaboration will underpin the entire process.
How were the food experts selected?
The idea for Makers Landing was always to democratise this community. Therefore the curatorial panel had to be representative and diverse – that is mixed race, mixed gender and made up of a variety of respected professionals with differing cultural backgrounds but a shared passion and purpose to democratise the food landscape and play a role transforming it and creating a pipeline for the next generation of food-preneurs.