Recently, we met Amanda Lewis, owner of Saucisse Boutique Deli, a family-run speciality meat and cheese Deli, located in the heart of Woodstock’s Old Biscuit Mill. When we chatted, Amanda had just returned from three weeks in Zambia, where she headed GreenPop’s Bush Kitchen for the treevolutionaries who planted trees with the team at Zambia Festival of Action 2015. Saucisse is a food hub of handpicked local suppliers, offering a high quality selection of local food. With her personal journey, ideas and future plans (including a sustainable cook book called Eat Food), it was an inspiring chat about her passion for food.
“It all started when I opened my own business. It was the first time that I was in a professional environment where I could set my own rules, buying what I wanted to buy and implementing the system I wanted. Originally, I went into it concentrating on the ethics of my products, which are 100% local and small scale, establishing a platform for small producers to showcase their home-grown products. “
She then went to Zambia with the GreenPop Team in 2014. “Ethically I was very happy with my choices. Then, while running the GreenPop kitchen for six weeks, I had my eureka moment when I realized that I had to concentrate on the waste aspect of food too. I remember wondering “How come I haven’t been thinking about it?” I started being packaging-conscious, and once back in Cape Town, I was overly inspired, and my staff thought I had gone nuts! We started recycling and at first it was only up to me to get the system running; a year on, this has become the way of life at the Deli”.
Saucisse is one of the only businesses at the Biscuit Mill that recycles and, besides using biodegradable packaging and cleaning products, it has teamed with Food for Thought and all food wastage gets delivered to the Night Haven Shelter in Observatory.
Amanda personally chooses all the suppliers she represents:
“This is a process I take really seriously. I meet them directly, I taste everything myself, making sure that the quality of the product is high level, while being produced as ethically as possible, trying to keep everything preservative and colourant free. I mainly work with really small-scale suppliers, from a mother-daughter team making jam to a producer who grows her own Kombucha using spring water from Newlands.”
What are the challenges of spearheading such a strong eco-friendly business ethos?
“It needs a lot of pre-planning to make sure that the system falls into place. It also entails a strong educational role we play with suppliers and customers alike, creating awareness on the reasons why we should put care into producing and selecting food that is free-range, locally made, with just a few ingredients. You might be paying a little more, but you know exactly what you’re getting. For example, our cured meats supplier handles everything himself, from sourcing pigs to butchering so I know exactly where all his meat comes from; he now has to compete with mass-production suppliers who we have no idea what goes into their products, how is that possible? This is the main problem; you need to be aware of what you’re buying.”
“We need to create the connection with where food comes from, reconnect with the person who produces our food and the person who is selling our food.”
“Tips? Open up the knowledge about what you’ve been eating. Go online and find all the eye-opening facts about the importance of vegetables and herbs. There is a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips; you just have to look for it. It is also empowering to learn how to read food labels, don’t pick up your food out of habit and be aware of what you eat.”
While David snapped a few pictures, I gazed around the buzzing Deli and my eyes were drawn to the wall where the Eco Atlas poster was, next to a beautiful quote by George Bernard Shaw “There is no love sincerer than the love for food”. It’s no surprise that Saucisse has adopted such philosophy.
Visit Saucisse, Monday to Saturday, or get in touch via their Eco Atlas page .