Social Impact Foodie
A former Masterchef SA contestant, Shannon Brauer, used this experience to reignite her love of cooking and kickstart her culinary career incorporate catering while also giving back through skill development and community farming initiatives.
She believes in a win-win philosophy and combining business success with helping others. To this end, she meets the needs of corporate catering and identified a gap in providing healthy, exciting, delicious and affordable meals for the workforce with giving back through skill development and support to community farming initiatives.
From farm to fork, her business values purpose and good health
She is a former Masterchef SA Season 2 contestant and the only South Africa who made it into the Top 20 semi-finalist group and who went on to become a finalist in the Jack Ma Foundation’s African Business Heroes in 2020.
She was selected from more than 22 000 entrants from 54 African countries. Changemaker Shannon launched Pure Good Foods after Masterchef, inspired by her passion for social development to meet the growing needs of corporate catering while also giving back through skill development and community farming initiatives.
“Pure Good is a health-focused contract catering company, with key company values being “Farm to Fork”, “Purpose over Profit”, “Attainable Health”, and ‘Corporate Wellness’”, said Shannon.
“Having worked in the publishing corporate space, I realised there was a huge gap in providing healthy, exciting, delicious and affordable meals for the workforce – not the usual carb-heavy, processed cheap stuff that was out there.
“My colleagues saw the fun, healthy things I used to bring to work, and I realised there was a market for it.
Childhood food influence
Shannon’s passion for good food had early and humble beginnings in her home kitchen.
“I’ve been in the kitchen for as early as I can remember. The science behind cooking always fascinated me. Having grown up with parents as restauranteers,
I was always around chefs and kitchens. I baked my first cake on my own when I was eight years old.”
She hails from Newcastle in KwaZulu Natal and moved to Cape Town when she was 11.
Shannon entered Masterchef to test her culinary abilities. “My entire life I believed I would enter into a professional career in food, but after spending a gap year in New York City and putting on a whopping 24kg, that career path became rather scary for me.
“Instead, I chose a career in publishing and worked for multiple magazines over the next six years. When MasterChef came to SA, I decided to take a leap of faith. Having found my own health journey and discovering the joys of grain-free and sugar-free healthy living, I wanted to share that passion with others.”
The Masterchef kitchen certainly puts you through your paces with the extreme time pressures, but Shannon managed to meet the demands.
“It was incredibly tough as you weren’t given the time and freedom to be creative and you were constantly aware of a ticking clock. This made decision-making much tougher. It forced us to think on our feet though, so it did play to some of my strengths.”
Merging two ideas
She said the idea for Pure Good Food came about when she wanted to marry two ideas. To become a healthy food cafe providing meals to the corporate world and enable community farms and give them a place to sell their produce.
“Having worked in the publishing corporate space, I realised there was a huge gap in providing healthy, exciting, delicious and affordable meals for the workforce – not the usual carb-heavy, processed cheap stuff that was out there. My colleagues saw the fun, healthy things I used to bring to work, and I realised there was a market for it.
“On top of this, I was involved in a charity in Phillipi and wanted to do something with them to help create a sustainable organic farm on their property, committing to purchasing all their stock from them.
“We ensure that we don’t dictate to the farmers what we need, instead we allow the farmers to farm and harvest what they want to. They provide us with their harvest list and we adjust our menu accordingly to ensure we use as much of their produce as possible. “This allows them to maximise the revenue from their crops, eliminates waste and keeps our menu fresh for our customers.”
Her conscious capitalism philosophy encompasses this. “We believe that doing good is good for business, that people in entrepreneurship need to incorporate social giveback into their business models. We believe that why we do what we do is more important than what we do,” she said with emphasis.
An example of her nourishing dishes and adapting to what the farmers provide is her Spinach Bowl: Spinach is high in nutrients and one of the crops the farmers often have an excess of. We cook it down and top it with veggies, Danish Feta and give customers the option to add free-range chicken for a wholesome meal,” she said.
Shannon expounds on the ethically eating view. That is, knowing the source of your food and making sure it has organically grown such as sourcing vegetables from small-scale farmers who don’t use pesticides.
She has no favourite type or style of cooking. “My favourite thing is creating something from nothing, looking at what is available in my fridges or my shops and making something delicious, ensuring nothing goes to waste.”
Busy days and balance
This social impact entrepreneur, with a keen interest in health and wellness in the workspace and supporting community farmers, lives a full, healthy and generous life.
This aligns with her key driving force is “to do something meaningful in my time on this earth”.
Shannon’s days are busy as she bounces between corporate cafeterias, visiting farms and meetings with her corporate clients.
To relax and for balance, this wife and mom of four children, exercises, does meditation, watches what she eats, yoga and spending time with her family.
The motto she lives by is: “You can’t wait for things to not be difficult in life before choosing to be happy.”
Her accomplishments prove she is on the winning track. She has won the PERA Award in 2016 for best-emerging business in the Western Cape besides becoming a top
20 finalist in the Jack Ma Foundation’s African Business Heroes in 2020. And, big corporates have chosen her business to be their onsite food offering.
Shannon describes herself as being an empath and an entrepreneur. “I am extremely driven and keen to make a change in our country,
helping empower people.”
GET IN TOUCH WITH THIS CHANGEMAKER
“It’s easier than you think to make small changes. And those small changes can grow and grow and grow and create something really incredible!”