Zanele Ngcoko, also known as “Chef Zan” in Gugulethu, Cape Town, was diagnosed with Covid-19 in May after she had trouble breathing
“I’d take five steps but it would feel like I’d taken like one hundred steps to get to the bathroom,” she told News24.
At the hospital, x-rays of her chest revealed that she had pneumonia in her lungs and she was sent to the Groote Schuur Hospital for a Covid-19 test.
“It felt like I was literally dying in that moment, you know, when they tell you because there are so many family friends that have passed on due to Covid,” she said.
She spent nine days recovering at an isolation facility set up at the Lagoon Beach Hotel and when she returned home, her employer, told her she would be retrenched. Ngcoko worked as a chef at a catering company.
She said she expected the news and because of this, came up with a back-up plan.
“I knew that I will not be a burden to anyone, I will not struggle. I know people always want food. You know, people are born every day. There are birthdays every day,” she said.
She baked a birthday cake for her eldest son and her family was so impressed they asked her to bake cakes for them too she said.
She posted pictures of her cakes on Facebook and soon the orders were “rolling in”.
“The journey started there. I made a second cake. I made a third cake which was [for] my sister’s 30th birthday and then orders started flowing in… since the 21st of June I think I’ve done about 60 to 70 cakes,” she said.
Ngcoko is dreaming even bigger and wants to open her own coffee shop and bakery in Gugulethu.
“There’s no place that I know that has a coffee shop in Gugulethu… when you need to have a meeting, you need to take a taxi to town or Claremont,” she said.
Ngcoko says she knows her business is going to grow.
“When I reflect on the journey of Covid, it’s life-changing. It’s like getting a second chance in life… do whatever you aspire to do when you have a chance to do it,” she said.
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