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Thursday, May 2, 2013

BOSSCHIQUE(ISM) Introducing Ms. Susan Senesie of Senesie Catering


This month WCA is so excited to be featuring Ms. Susan Senesie! In our quest to shine  light on Sierra Leonean BOSSCHIQUES we thought Susan would be the perfect person to continue this series with!  I met Ms. Senesie on the day of my birthday, she was referred to me because I needed a birthday picnic catered for the beach.  Let's just say from the moment I spoke with her till the time I actually consumed the amazing food she cooked I was highly impressed. My favorite moment happened before she cooked for my bday picnic. Susan asked me what color I liked, I told her I liked pink. Susan did the most fabulous thing by creating cupcakes with pink icing and fruit fillings and edible flowers. I was so blown away with this addition to my menu along with many others. I knew there was something special about Susan and I wanted to world to hear more about her, and for those who are ever in Sierra Leone, be it a dinner for  two, a wedding party or one of Susan's Pop Up Dinners, you have got to experience this woman and her art of cooking.  Susan has truly branded the Salone Style of cooking into top cuisine . This woman is ambitious, powerful, sweet and  a BOSSCHIQUE! who is going to the top and makes me extremely proud to be a Sierra Leonean and African woman. WCA readers we hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoy her cooking and the actual interview. 

SUSAN THE WOMAN 




Q: Who is Susan in one word?

A: Dynamic

Q: So you are Sierra Leonean ? Where are you currently based and tell us how did you decide you wanted to launch your business in Sierra Leone? Walk us through how the idea came to you and until you launched your business?

A: Yes am Salone Gal! Currently based in Freetown Sierra Leone(SL/Salone)  and I went to Chef school in London . The Idea came about with a collective of series happening when I was living & working in London. I was having difficulty finding decent African cookbooks in all major book stores and on TV there was no cooking programs that showcased our african dishes. So I thought I have gotten all this wonderful  experience from London, I can come back to my wonderful country and  enhance our food(Just like a beautiful woman enhancing there beauty with make-up!). I wanted to see our lovely dishes done in a 3 course fine dining style, as canape style, local fruits into cocktail style etc. Also coming back I realized there were not much happening in the food industry in SL. I noticed a lack of hospitality which is one of our biggest challenges in the service industry; there is no customer care in most of our restaurants. So as part of my work I am training these young guys on my staff on how they can provide good services and receive better pay for them as well.

Upon my return to Sierra Leone, I started a company called MahwU Pantry (which means Top Pantry) the concept is a weekly menu consisting  of HOT LOCAL Sierra Leonean FOOD(e.g.,  Crain Crain, Egusi & Foo Foo) , SUPER SALAD(Very healthy with calories count) BITES(which consist of our local street food like FRY FRY, Orlehleh) and HOMEMADE JUICES(Tombe/Tamarind) ,Bissap/Sorrel Ginger beer, Lemon grass ice tea.

I also came about with the idea of a POP UP RESTAURANT from London. In London, most people where complaining about the lack of choices in the restaurant menus & also disappointed these restaurant couldn’t provide Sierra Leone dishes only Jollof or fried rice, so I launched it in London and It has been a great success so far, because it is done in different locations  with inovative Salone dishes.  I also felt like it was good to do something for kids in Sierra Leone so I  just launched Kids cooking classes as there is not enough things for kids to do back home. 

Some upcoming projects include that I will be launching Adult cooking classes in April. A final project of mine on the horizon will be setting up a school program which involve building canteens for under privileged schools. I feel strongly about this because without food no one cannot function and I have been finding out most of the kids don’t have breakfast or lunch to come to school. 

All of these ventures have been a great success with my family great support & God’s blessing.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about yourself and also your  catering business and what types of services you provide to clients? And what clients should expect from you?

A: Well am a mother with two beautiful kids, I enjoy painting, playing football. The name of my company is Senesie Catering which is dedicated to my late father,he used to be chef where my love for food came from, I launched my businees 2010, started with 3 staff now is gone up to 10 permanent and 12 temporary.  We provide Corprate Hospitality, private fuctions from 2-200 guests, Kids Party, Charity Events, Weddings. We strive for excellence for our customers.

Q: WOW you do a LOT and it's truly commendable. You recently had your pop up restaurant event in Sierra Leone and it looked like it was a success. Such an innovative idea! Tell us a bit more about this event and other such events you do for your business?

A:Oh Whoa! the Pop up Restaurant…the idea came from London & America. I thought when am in Salone  it will be a great idea with all the beautiful landscape and most people  I spoke to loved the idea. The first pop up salone event hosted was a great a success with 20 guests. I served canape & cocktails, a 3 course dinner, cultural entainment and also tie dye ties as gift for gents & tie dye scarves for the ladies. The second event sold out within two days & we had 25 people on a waiting list! It’s not easy to put togehther but it’s an  amazing experience  to do. We also launched British Airways in SL, American International School Secondary school, Catered for Eva Mendes(holly wood Actress) filming Women strenghting in SL, World Bank, America Embassy leaving party and also recently POP UP DINNER for TWO ( which was extremely romantic if I must say so myself).

Q: Please share with us what a typical day looks like for you in your work or when you have a client and tell us the many hats you wear as a woman?

A: Oh God! With this one I think we will need a book written! (laughs) But I will do my best to micro size it.

I  usually get up for 6.30 get my thoughts together, have a quick shower,visit MahwU Garden which my lovely mama is in charge of, pick some fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes , edible flowers because they are my standard vegetables we  need daily. I also pick lemongrass or morenga for tea as part of my breakfast. 

  • At 7.30am I check mails for bookings or client questions & reply to them 
  • At 8am I start preparing our lunch meals for my clients 
  • At 8.30am I  send texts to our customers for MahwU pantry daily specials
  • At  9am text messages start coming for their lunch orders.  We used to have 8 text messages for lunch, but now we have up to 25-45 for lunchtime! 
  • At 10am breakfast with my wonderful team, we all catch up about the businesss, for 15mins.
  • At 11am start packaging food. 
  • At 11.30 my boys head out to deliver into town, sometimes I have to deliver myself .
  •  At 1.30 pm delivery  finishes and I  have a quick lunch with my PA, and shortly after I head for the market which can be very chaotic but I do enjoy picking up the fresh  meat & vegetables and also enjoy talking  with the suppliers.
  •  At 3-4:30pm I meet new clients between 
  •  At 5:30pm I rush home to do lunch for one client that’s on a strict diet to loose 2 stone and another client  to put one & half stone for her 50th Birthday. 
  • At 8pm I catch up with my kids 
  • I stay on the internet till10pm creating menu new ideas
  • & then bed.



Q: Seems like you are a busy woman and your business has really grown! congratulations for that. Susan tell us what is one thing you enjoy about your work? One thing you enjoy doing?
A: I enjoy the satisfaction my customers are getting from us,
    Creating new menus with local; our local Sierra Leone ingredients.


Q: Please describe some challenges you face in your business/ personally as a womanand explain to us what you learned from  them?

A:Some of  the challenges I face was more in London, because with our industry is dominated by male chefs, and for us women to shine you have work twice as had to get the next position! But for me what  works was my attitude towards my work. I didn’t have to behave like a man, I just did my job twice better than them, I was  always in competition with myself, raising the barrier than the day before!

ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP



Q: What would you say sets you apart from others as a social entrepreneur?

A: Teaching Sierra Leonean youth the ambition and mission to drive poverty away from our future kids and for them to understand, why they don’t have to wait for handouts!
Right now I have 3  of my workers who just started  working with me, they all 19 years of age, but they had to stop schooling because they could not afford to pay $50 a year for school fees. My solution was I created a program to teach them to save 5% of their wages and I promise to put the 95% towards there fees next academic year.

Q: Can you tell us the top 3 things every woman needs to be successful in your industry that you currently work in?
A: 1.As in life not just work, do you,  respect & believe in your self
      2.What ever you do, do it well
      3. Surround yourself with good, positive people i.e famlies , friends, mentors and have faith.

Q: Any plans of owning a restaurant in Sierra Leone? 10 years from now where do you want your catering brand to be?

A: Oh most definitely! I am planning on  a fine dining & roof top restaurant.
10 years from now I will love my catering brand to be all over Africa & Europe, my cooking  books displayed at top book stores around the world with people buying, experincing, celebrating africa cooking in style.

  

  

ON AFRICAN WOMEN



Q: What Impact do you think you are making on African women and girls through your work? Are there any charity events you are involved in?
A: I  talk to my ladies on a  daily basis, how to carry yourself as woman in today’s society , by taking care and protecting our body. Getting education and making  your own money, not waiting for a man to make you but to spoil you!

I am involved in charity, I sacrifice one months wage and used it to make a christmas party for a local school at a school in Freetown called in Gorderich for 500 kids, they had a sport day xmas party and all of them took gifts home. It was a blast. Like I mentioned before I am going to start with creating a canteen for under priviledge schools around Freetown & up country, and I am looking forward to this project. 

Q: If you were to cook for 3 amazing African women you look up to who would it be and why ?

A:   I will say my mother, but I always cook for her!

2. Madam Yoko, Sierra Leonean heroine; she paved the way for us african women. Especially Sierra Leonean women. 

3. Oprah Winfrey, I have been following her for the last 20 years, she shows how to believe in yourself  and fighting against all the odds as a woman and a black woman. Plus she loves good food!

Q: Finish the sentence “Women Change Africa because…..?”
A: "Women Change Africa because, Africa needs women”

To contact Susan for her services, you can email her at susansenesie2012@gmail.com


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