UCU graduate inspired by uncle’s reviews to commercialize cooking

By Agatha N. Biira

Talking about hobbies and cooking will come up as something most people tend to consider a chore. But that is not the case for Angela Tusiime Basiima, commonly known as Ella, who recently graduated from Uganda Christian University with a Bachelor of Laws.

For her, cooking is a passion, something that makes her happy. Tusiime says, “When I am in the kitchen, that’s my joy. I would rather cook than do the dishes.”

When the lockdown took effect in 2020, Tusiime started doing a lot of cooking and baking. One day, her uncles visited them at their home, and she had made puff pastries. She had a taste and told her they were good. It was reviews like this that made her start her restaurant, “Ella’s Cabin,” which operates online.

Ella’s cabin was started with the help of her mother and uncle. “When I introduced the idea to them, they did not bash it. They invested in it and I did the cooking, “she said. “During lockdown, I also washed mom’s car and did some legal work online for money, which I invested in the cabin.”

At first, Tusiime thought of having a website where the restaurant could be run, but she was told that she would need a name. “Ella’s cabin was an instant thought because Ella is my name and the feeling of wood is really nice,” she said. “I didn’t want any restaurant name attached to it because I would want a cabin feel if I ever established a physical location.”

When she had gone to visit her aunt in Kabale, she received a call from her mother, Doreen Ainomugisha, telling her they had got their first client. “By that time, I had not yet gotten names for the food that was to be on the menu. It was just freestyle. She asked for the recipe, and I sent it to her. “Our first order was 5 kilograms of oven pork and at the time, each was going for Shs. 20.000,” she said.

Tusiime took a course in health and nutrition online to better understand food and how best to serve her customers.

When she got back to school, she bought a pizza mixer because it takes a shorter time to make pizza as compared to an oven. She employed her cousin and former roommate to help her with the business. And because the secret of the pizza is in the dough, she would make it and they would help with the toppings.

“On days when I work, I have to pay them because work is work and the business also pays me. I learnt to differentiate family and friends from business, “Tusiime said. 

Having started at a time when movement was limited, they were able to make more sales and create visibility. “Between 2020 and 2021, people were not going to sit in restaurants, but rather, they were relying on deliveries. So, we focused on maximizing sales so as to establish a customer base,” Tusiime said.

The business is being managed by others while she is at work, and on the weekends when she has time off, she takes over.

Time and working online still remain a barrier. She hopes to have a physical location and expand her business. Tusiime says, “I don’t look at this as a side hustle but something I do for my own happiness. It’s a dream I intend to fulfill. I would be happy to mentor someone into establishing something of the sort. “