Featured Food & Drink Personalities

Exclusive interview with Battle of the Chefs’ Joseph Bunga

If you give your adolescent kids pocket money on holiday, and they collectively decide to treat you, the parents, to dinner, then you’ve got to think that you’ve done something right!

Well, yes, Joseph Bunga has done many things right and the dinner invitation for him and his wife, Veronica, is just a simple example of that.

Background

Joseph came to Zimbabwe in 1983 at 10 years old, when his Catholic missionary parents moved here from India. Joseph attended Plumtree School, Hotel School in Bulawayo and went on to spend four years at Meikles Hotel as the Central Sales Manager.

He tried his hand at import/export for a bit before going on to launch Hello Harare magazine and the Eatout website in 2010. But all along, he had bigger plans. During this time, Joseph established trustworthy relationships with restaurant owners and people throughout the food industry.

Battle of the Chefs

In 2010, he wrote the business plan for Battle of the Chefs TV reality show that would be launched in 2015. His well-thought-out plan allowed for five years to raise the necessary funds. The fundraising, not surprisingly, proved to be a huge challenge.

However, Joseph’s determination and commitment to his project was unwavering. He and his team filmed Season 1 in 2015 in his double lock-up garage using borrowed cameras and equipment. Because of the money it cost him, he and Veronica chose to home-school three of their four children for one year. Ironically, Joseph says that was a challenge that he absolutely loved. In fact, he still thinks about becoming a home-school teacher to this day.

December 4, 2015 was a massively pivotal day for Joseph Bunga. Nearly at the end of his tether, having pitched almost all of the corporations in town to try to gain sponsorship without success, he walked into his meeting with Pick ‘n Pay. He gave his presentation and was offered a contract on the spot! Joseph actually told me this story with tears in his eyes. It was a highly emotional turn of events that gave him validation and opened many doors. Battle of the Chefs is now operating in profit, the plans for expansion are huge and exciting and not less than 1.6 million viewers tune in to ZBC to watch the chefs battle it out. Plans for Battle of the Chefs Kenya and Battle of the Chefs Ghana are in the pipeline; there is also talk of Battle of the Chefs Victoria Falls that will include Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

Season 4 is in pre-production now and will be aired in February. The show is produced in Joseph’s studios. The studios in Msasa are an incredibly clever use of space. They have been built up over the years using lots of recycled timber. Be sure to look out for the show early next year. It promises to be a must-see!

Mytastebuds.TV

Another project Joseph is working on is a Whatsapp channel called Mytatesbuds.TV where his 7,400 subscribers can watch videos of recipes being made. Joseph’s children love to bake and cook from these videos. To subscribe to receive these yummy concoctions, Whatsapp “Join” to 0776 402402.

Team Up to Clean Up

Joseph is also very involved with the clean up campaign called Team Up to Clean Up as the Assistant Director under Director Father Issac Fernandez, SJ. This worthy campaign is using recycled tyres to build a soccer stadium and clean up a park in Mbare. This picture shows a prototype of what their goal is for the park in Mbare. Great work, guys!

Thank you to Joseph Bunga and his family for their inspiring work.

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