McMaster nursing student Thomas Kambadzi is cooking up a career in health care – and he is already busy with house calls.
A year ago he wanted to open a restaurant near his Brantford home, but he couldn't afford to set up an eatery. So when he applied last summer for an Ontario government Summer Company small business grant of $1,500, he whipped up plans for a visiting vegan chef service.
"Instead of people coming to my restaurant, I bring the restaurant to their house," he said.
Business grew after a Brantford newspaper story was published.
"The last few days before I was back to school I was at clients' homes almost every day," Kambadzi said. "It was busy and I had to slow it down."
With a clinical placement in a Hamilton nursing home in the autumn, Kambadzi moved his business to the back-burner until another rush of calls came in to end the year.
Thomas' In Your Home Vegetarian Restaurant business helped pay the way through nursing school for Kambadzi, who followed his family to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2013. The business also offered unexpected lessons juggling school work, running a business and self-assertiveness.
Sometimes, his meat-eating clients need a little convincing that vegan food can be tasty too. His speciality is a burger with no meat that surprises with mouth-filling flavour. He likes to close meals with a rich, plant-based, strawberry-flavoured, no-milk cheesecake.
After Kambadzi arrives with bags of groceries and starts to cook from scratch, dinner guests often gather around him to watch. That's when Kambadzi serves up nutrition lessons, promoting vegetable-based foods as a prescription for a healthy, and long life.
"That's always been my passion. It was an opportunity for me to start a business where I can be able to teach these health promotion lessons while running the business," he said.
Now that he has completed his degree, Kambadzi is applying for a nursing job.
Meanwhile, his business is still going strong and offering the in-your-home vegan chef service. He anticipates his nursing career may impact the availability of his chef service, but he is actively working towards making some of his desserts, including his famous cheesecake, available in local natural and health food stores and cafés.
Kambadzi will be one of the graduates at McMaster's School of Nursing convocation on Tuesday, June 13 at Hamilton Place.