Ntsiki Biyela. Picture: Instagram (Ntsiki Biyela)
Ntsiki Biyela. Picture: Instagram (Ntsiki Biyela)

The most influential women in the food and beverage industry

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jul 29, 2021

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Who are the most influential and innovative women leading the food and beverage industry today? Well, wonder no more.

From restaurateurs and business executives, to brewers growing brands, these are the women driving the industry forward.

Not all the women listed below may operate as big industry players. But this group is permanently changing the way we eat and drink, and how we think about food and beverages.

Now that’s power in its own right.

Lucy Beard

Lucy Beard is the co-founder of Hope Distillery, a Cape Town gin and vodka distillery that prides itself on crafting spirits from scratch. Beard left her career in London as a lawyer and returned to South Africa to start a craft distillery with her husband, Leigh. Initially called Hope on Hopkins, now rebranded as Hope Distillery, the company has gone from strength to strength.

She says every day they set out to make the absolute best spirits they can.

“We’re constantly experimenting and striving for excellence, mixing up new ideas and honing our recipes in our custom-built distillery. For us, it’s about creating something exceptional; something instilled with integrity and passion; something that will become the perfect accompaniment to people’s special moments,” says Beard.

Ntsiki Biyela

Ntsiki Biyela is one of South Africa’s iconic and world-renowned winemakers. Biyela has forged a path to become a highly respected and widely admired name in the world of wine. In 2016, she established Aslina Wines, inspired by the strength and determination of the biggest influence in her life, her grandmother.

Today, Aslina is renowned for its range of premium wines and is the realisation of Biyela’s dream to create an exceptional world-class brand. Her ambition to create her own wines grew following a collaboration with Californian winemaker Helen Kiplinger as part of Mika Bulmash’s Wine for the World initiative.

It was over dinner and a glass of wine with her new colleagues in the US that Biyela shared the story of the inspiration behind her ambition. Her grandmother was the guiding light in her life, and it became obvious that her new brand should be named Aslina in the matriarch’s honour.

Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins is the founder of Wonderbag, a stand-alone, non-electric insulated bag designed to reduce the amount of fuel required to cook food in developing countries. Although the Wonderbag was designed to help the poor cook their food without using too much electricity, it’s just as useful for those who are shorter of time than money.

The product was widely used during load shedding, and now everyone from restaurants and hotels to individuals in their private homes will likely look to this indigenous bag again to help save precious water resources.

Collins says cooking in the Wonderbag keeps the moisture inside your food, and the nutrients don’t boil away, thus promoting healthy food.

Siba Mtongana

Sibahle Mtongana is a chef, restaurateur and television presenter famously known as the host of the Cooking Channel show Siba's Table.

Mtongana continues to break industry barriers through her passion for food and people. In 2019, she was hand-picked by the presidency to direct and curate the VIP menu for the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa, serving 450 guests, including heads of states, former presidents, kings, queens and global business moguls.

After recently being dubbed a “global food goddess” by Tatler Malaysia and being recognised by Harvard University, the multi-award-winning cookbook author also opened her first Cape Town restaurant at Sun International’s five-star Table Bay Hotel in the V&A Waterfront last year.

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