Portia Mbau

Portia was the first person to open a continental-African restaurant in South Africa. She is a proud woman of Africa, deeply connected to the people who feed their communities. She started The Africa Café in 1992, when being a black female entrepreneur was unheard of. Since starting out in her tiny dining room, 28 years later, the restaurant has grown to a 200-seater local landmark, a Mother City institution and still does roaring trade.

Portia has dedicated her life to celebrating and innovating African cuisine. Portia’s love of adventure and cooking has taken her across the continent; each travel experience inspires many recipes. Now she is redefining perceptions again with The Africa Cookbook.

Q & A with Portia

1.What would you love people to know about you and your work?

That into whatever I do, I put my whole heart. I don’t do anything just for show or half way. I believe for all of us, who love what we do, it shows- and when you give genuinely, you receive abundantly.

I am passionate about food, health and Africa. I am an entrepreneur and an ideas woman at my core, I’m always looking to do something new, and surprise people.

2.Share one of your highlights from working in your field and what it means to you

I get the most pleasure from creating experiences that people fall in love with, especially when it’s something they had low expectations of from the start. With the food I serve at my restaurant, and our cookbook – I love making food people truly enjoy.

3.Fill in the following: Transformation in this industry will happen when….…………………………

We don’t close the door behind us as we rise. That we reach out and support one another, collaborate and share valuable information with each other.

4.. What’s your goal/vision for our SA POC at the Table group (in other words: why is it important)

It’s important because in truth we still feel like a minority ‘at the table’ and that feeling is amplified when we are divided. Instead there are so many role models who have experience in this industry and can help everyone on their journey. It’s essential to have a forum where we can be united and in-conversation over topics that really matter to us.

5.Name one person in this broader industry whom you look up to or a person who you really admire and why (we’re all about community!)

Having recently published a cookbook with Quivertree, I have a lot of respect for Mogau Seshoene for actively self promoting her book and making it a real success.

Follow Portia on Instagram @food.of.africa