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Sushi’s Secret Sauce: Vusi Kunene of The Blackanese

Home-grown sushi chef embraces Japan with an African twist.

Nadine Todd

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Sushi at heart

Vusi Kunene has a secret. He adores sushi. Years spent in the restaurant industry as a teenager fostered a love of food and cooking, but it was sushi that really won his heart. Strange for a young, black South African male, he knows, but who can deny their passion? “I loved the freshness of the ingredients and the art of sushi,” he says.

The secret sauce

By 2008, Vusi decided he was ready to launch his own catering business, focusing on functions and events. His secret sauce? A mobile sushi bar. “I used the sushi bar to draw attention to the business. I set up at food markets and events, prospective customers could taste the sushi, and of course if they booked me I would bring the sushi bar to them. It was a great marketing tool.”

Building momentum

The strategy worked well. Vusi had secured contracts at the Sandton Convention Centre, Africa Bike Week, the Soweto Wine Festival as well as with a number of corporate clients. In each case, it was the mix of great catering and fresh sushi that sealed the deal. “The mobile catering business was doing well, but I had always planned to open a sit-down restaurant as well. I just hadn’t found a location yet.”

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Laying roots

It was at the Market on Main food market that Jonathan Liebmann, the developer of Maboneng Precinct, approached Vusi about his sushi bar. Was he interested in perhaps opening a small restaurant in the precinct?

“Jonathan had heard about what I did from other patrons and visitors to the market, and he had a space for me. I still do the market because it’s a great feature of the Maboneng Precinct, but now you can find us six days a week on Kruger Street as well.”

Opened with money saved from those weekend markets, the restaurant is a testament to Vusi’s determination and passion.

What’s in a name?

The business’s name started as a joke. “I’m a black man making sushi, and it often confused my patrons — particularly after they had tasted the sushi,” says Vusi.

“They would ask me what part of Japan I was from. I always answered, I’m not Japanese, I’m Blackenese, this is Blackenese. The name just stuck, and I thought it was perfect for my first restaurant.”

A firm fixture in the Maboneng Precinct, Vusi has also joined the Awethu Project, which is helping him develop his business acumen. The restaurant’s offering has also extended to sushi classes — South African style!

Vital stats

  • Player: Vusi Kunene
  • Company: The Blackanese Sushi and Wine Bar
  • Launched: 2012
  • Concept: Homegrown sushi experience
  • Contact: +27 (0)78 210 9671 ; www.theblackanese.co.za

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Zankewuu Extreamist Ngubane

    Sep 12, 2013 at 18:23

    Wiskhokho son get m connected

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Snapshots

27 Of The Richest People In South Africa

Here are 27 of South Africa’s richest people, but how did they achieve this level of wealth? Find out here.

Nicole Crampton

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Learn the secrets of SA’s most successful business people, here is the list of the 27 richest people in South Africa:

In a world with growing entrepreneurship success stories, victory is often measured in terms of money. The feat of achieving a place on this list is, however, years of hard work, determination and persistence. “One has to set high standards… I can never be happy with mediocre performance,” advises Patrice Motsepe.

From the individuals that made the 27 of the richest people in South Africa list, actual entrepreneurs and self-made business people dominate the list; while those who inherited their fortunes have gone on to do even bigger and better things with their wealth. Over the years, some have slipped off the list, while others continue to climb higher and higher each year.

  1. Elisabeth Bradley
  2. Sharon Wapnick
  3. Bridgette Radebe
  4. Irene Charnley
  5. Wendy Ackerman
  6. Paul Harris
  7. Wendy Appelbaum
  8. Mark Shuttleworth
  9. Desmond Sacco
  10. Giovanni Ravazzotti
  11. Markus Jooste
  12. Gus Attridge
  13. Gerrit Thomas Ferreira
  14. Cyril Ramaphosa
  15. Adrian Gore
  16. Raymond Ackerman
  17. Michiel Le Roux
  18. Lauritz Dippenaar
  19. Jannie Mouton
  20. Stephen Saad
  21. Patrice Motsepe
  22. Allan Gray
  23. Koos Bekker
  24. Ivan Glasenberg
  25. Christoffel Wiese
  26. Johann Rupert
  27. Nicky Oppenheimer
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Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

South Africa needs more entrepreneurs to build businesses that can make a positive impact on the economy. These up-and-coming black entrepreneurs are showing how it can be done.

Nicole Crampton

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Early-stage South African entrepreneurial activity is at an all-time high of 11%, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, and entrepreneurial intentions have also increased to 11.7%. With both activity and intentions growing significantly year-on-year, there are more businesses opening up around South Africa than ever before.

The increase in entrepreneurship has seen the rise of more black entrepreneurs across numerous sectors. From beauty brands to legal services and even tech start-ups, these are 50 top black entrepreneurs to watch:

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Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

Keep your finger on the pulse of the start-up space by using our comprehensive list of SA small business to watch.

Nicole Crampton

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Entrepreneurship in South Africa is at an all-time high. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), total early-stage entrepreneurial activity has increased by 4.1% to 11% in 2017/2018. This means numerous new, exciting and promising small businesses are launching and growing.

To ensure you know who the innovative trailblazers are in the start-up and small business space, here are 50 of South Africa’s top establishing companies to watch, in no particular order:

  1. Livestock Wealth
  2. The Lazy Makoti
  3. Aerobuddies
  4. Mimi Women
  5. i-Pay
  6. AfriTorch Digital
  7. Akili Labs
  8. Native Décor
  9. Aerobotics
  10. Quality Solutions
  11. EM Guidance
  12. Kahvé Road
  13. HSE Matters
  14. VA Virtual Assistant
  15. Famram Solutions and Famram Foundation
  16. BioTech Africa
  17. Brand LAIKI
  18. Plus Fab
  19. LifeQ
  20. Organico
  21. 10dot
  22. Lenoma Legal
  23. Nkukhu-Box
  24. Benji + Moon
  25. Beonics
  26. Brett Naicker Wines
  27. Khalala
  28. Legal Legends
  29. The Power Woman Project
  30. Aviro Health
  31. AnaStellar Brands
  32. Data Innovator
  33. Fo-Sho
  34. Oolala Collection Club
  35. Recomed
  36. VoiceMap
  37. ClockWork
  38. Empty Trips
  39. Vula Mobile
  40. SwiitchBeauty
  41. Pineapple
  42. The Katy Valentine Collection
  43. OfferZen
  44. KHULA
  45. Incitech
  46. Pimp my Book
  47. ART Technologies and ART Call Management
  48. Prosperiprop
  49. WAXIT
  50. The Sun Exchange
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