Anita van Wyk, born and raised in Pretoria, and Mika Zorgman, born and raised in the Waterberg area, met in Pretoria in the early 1990s, where they both studied Food Management. This started their life-long friendship, which led to the opening of Tabu Food.
Anita chose a career in hotel management in South Africa, while Mika started her career as a chef in Cape Town; and then moved to Europe where she studied Macrobiotics at the Kushi Institute in Amsterdam and Plant-based Nutrition with Colin Campbell. Her career veered into Macrobiotic cooking and the philosophy of aiding clients to regain their health through food, rather than medicine.
On visiting Anita, Mika expressed her idea that there is a need in South Africa for quality fermented and unpasteurised foods and health products. This was 2014 and Tabu Food was born.
The name Tabu is the result of the common reaction people have to healthy cooking. Everybody wants to hear about health and wants to practice it, just not that healthy! Therefore macrobiotic food was taboo to many people, as it was still very unknown in the European and South African cultures.
Since then, the vegan/plant-based market has grown rapidly – and the notion to cut animal products from one’s diet is not frowned upon any more.
Our Tempeh range and Miso range which is both high protein, unprocessed, easy to prepare food, is gaining popularity.
At Tabu, our biggest challenge was (and is!), educating and promoting our products. We got used to being told that our products are ‘strange’ and that there is no market for it in this country, but our belief, our persistence and time paid off and changed that.
Tabu’s naturally fermented vegetables and sauerkraut, which is free from vinegar and sugar, bubbles over on opening, which actually shows the quality of the fermentation, but tends to get people worried as they perceive this as an unlucky moment and buy.
The Tabu team consists of five driven and hard-working people:
- Mary, from Lesotho, is in charge of packaging and production. She is the unrivaled producer of our delicious Natto and Amazaki. Though kind and soft-spoken, she is a passionate and diligent perfectionist.
- Our Tabu chef is Lloyd, from Zambia. He produces Temphe and all our wonderful Temphe products. Contrary to the chef stereotype; our Lloyd is a composed and kind gentleman.
- Mellissa was born and bred in Pretoria. Without her, Tabu’s administration is a lost cause. Melissa is the calm eye of every Tabu-storm.
- Anita is the heartbeat of the company and solely responsible for Logistics and Operations. Much of the Tabu successes are singularly a result of her drive.
- Mika is the creator-developer-imaginer. Her dreams and creativity and her always conjuring up new plans, makes Tabu Food a dynamic force. Mika’s creativity has no bounds and she will go to extremes to prove the impossible is possible.
The most underrated products from Tabu Foods are their sea vegetables. These have a high mineral content that is extremely important for daily body development and functioning. The other secret health weapon is Natto. This superfood contains natural Vitamin K2, which cleans the blood and arteries and provides calcium where needed in our bodies and aids in weight loss.
Tabu Food is set apart from other companies by their ability to adapt and provide healthy, interesting and beneficent fermented foods from different cultures and countries, and bring it right to your table.
This gives their clients the option to enjoy products that are made naturally, in order to keep their healing properties, like Tabu Food’s naturally brewed and aged Soya and Tamari sauce range, made with only the best organic ingredients available.
In the coming year, Tabu looks forward to the extension of their tempeh range to Black Bean Temphe as it is an excellent source of iron, calcium and other minerals. So far, they have had wonderful feedback on this new introduction.
Also, look-out for more cooking classes and workshops starting in April 2020!