Young Burundian chef reveals entrepreneurship joys of culinary arts

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By Kizzi Asala and Rénovat Ndabashinze with Africanews

In Burundi, the art of cooking can sometimes be underestimated by the youth — viewing the profession as reserved for the uneducated from low-income families.

Eric Niyondiko, a chef at the AFRICANA bar-resto, located on the Boulevard de l’Uprona in downtown Bujumbura, asserts that the cooking profession can provide a living and great source of income.

The young chef outlines his journey.

“I make my living as a chef. It provides me with more than 95% of the money I use. It is from this trade that I paid dowry, I have equipment and a vehicle.”

Before starting his business, Eric underwent six months of training to complement his self-taught skills acquired via internet research.

Now equipped with the necessary tools, he trains other young people who want to devote themselves to the culinary arts.

The successful chef believes the field is still an unexplored territory in Burundi dripping with lucrative career opportunities for the youth.

Judging from his own success, it is clear that Eric knows what he is talking about when he encourages the youth to consider his profession.

“This job will help them in their lives. They will eat well because they know how to cook and they will have money. In Burundi, there are very few professional cooks compared to consumers. There are opportunities.”

Sounds like a winning basic skill that could serve anyone in many aspects of their life.

Eric clearly seems to think so.

“In fact, everyone needs to learn the art of cooking. Because when you know how to cook, you also know the needs of your body. Normally, we should eat according to our body’s needs and not what we want.”

Thanks to his work as a thriving Burundian chef, Eric Niyondiko says he has already travelled to countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and many more.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, he says he would receive orders to cook and cater for parties in person — in particular in Rwanda for individual clients.

Today, Eric no longer needs to be hired by the state as he has established financial independence as his own boss.