Siena Charles, respectfully known as Tannie (aunty) Siena, is as well-known in Stellenbosch and surrounds for her delicious “roosterkoek” as she is for her generosity of spirit that spills over into the very practical ways in which she serves her community. Together with her daughter, Donique, they oversee the Beker en Bord food cart at the CoCreate Hub.

In establishing her business, the lifelong Kylemore resident is a woman who has embraced the skills she learned as a youngster from her grandmother. After being involved in a feeding scheme providing meals within the community from 2003 onward, Siena began with a home-based food preparation initiative – selling meals to local residents. After a while, she realised that having a sit-down eatery on her property might be viable, and with that, Beker en Bord was born as a local tea garden in 2010. After initial disappointment after envisaged tourist numbers from the 2010 Soccer World Cup did not materialise, Siena became despondent – until an encounter with a gentleman who stopped for tea with his daughter changed her business trajectory and Beker en Bord began to flourish.

Growing up as her grandmother’s “helper”, Siena learned how to keep a kitchen running. Her grandmother was a midwife is the area, and it was Siena’s job to make sure that food preparation continued, even when her grandmother was out. It was her grandmother who taught her how to prepare foods that were their traditional staples while growing up – “bredies” (stews) and roosterkoek – and it was these foods that she wanted to focus on in her own business. She wanted to prepare the foods from her childhood in the way she was taught. In so doing, Siena believes that she is keeping old traditions alive and honouring the memory of her grandmother.

The CoCreate Hub has provided Beker en Bord with the opportunity to introduce their food to a whole new audience. Siena believes that working in an environment like the Hub provides opportunities for collaboration, and to assist and support one another. As a people’s person, Siena views the entrepreneurs at the CoCreate Hub as one family who are there to help one another. The Covid pandemic meant a scaled-down tea garden, but she continues to operate at another premises in Kylemore. Tannie Siena continues to fill orders for roosterkoek to businesses, schools, and private customers. Her vision for the future is to see continued growth in all aspects of her business.

Gratitude and her faith form the foundation for Siena’s life philosophy. She believes that God has provided for her and has given her the opportunity to create a sustainable business.

Beker en Bord (directly translated: Plate and Cup) is a reference to the practice of Holy Communion and the strength of fellowship.

You can find Siena’s contact details on the CoCreate Hub Entrepreneurs page.

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Images: Lizelle Lötter Photography