Chef Hajiera Hamit Picture: ANA/Ayanda Ndamane
For the head chef at Peninsula All Suite Hotel in Sea Point, Hajiera Hamit, entering the culinary world was daunting .  But the pint-sized chef, formally from Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats, says it was the white chef's jacket that drew her in.

“I fell in love with the white uniform, and when I was on the outside looking in it always looked so glamorous," she says.  "To survive in this industry you are either insane or passionate,” she laughs. 

Hajiera says her family had concerns about her entering the industry as a Muslim woman.  “Me being a Muslim woman in the industry was a  concern for my family. My mom did some research and people would ask how I could work with pork because of my religion. 

“But it is my livelihood, so it is allowed in my religion. When I make pork dishes, I don't taste the food myself I let one of the other chefs taste for me," she says.

Chef Hajiera Hamit says entering the industry was intimidating, but her fighting spirit kept her going. Picture: ANA/Ayanda Ndamane
Hajiera says although she was “petrified" when she first entered the industry, giving up was never an option.  “I was the short chick from the Cape Flats walking into kitchens where there were predominantly white men.  I was a little intimidated, but because of my fighting spirit I knew this is where I belong," she says. 

"Giving up was not an option because I knew my mother sacrificed a lot so I could be here.  I didn’t grow up rich and we were five people in the house with just my father’s salary.  They made that sacrifice for me so I had to bite the bullet.”