If I had to articulate the spirit of this woman in one word, it would be "Perseverance". I have always had a deep amount of respect and admiration for her drive, and relentless pursuit to develop, and share her passion for food.
After following her for a couple of years now, on social media, it is no denying that what she offers, is nothing short of spectacular. Her ability to juggle a family of 5 children and work tirelessly on her food business is a testament to her strong will and fighting spirit.
Kasanita Tanumi is the person behind "Kana with Kassie". She is basically your ultimate "foodie/chef", and quite easily, the friend we all wish we had. She specialises in authentic Fijian food, presented with what could only be called the "Kassie effect". Presenting her food in a fun and beautiful way, with names like "Bula bowl", "Viti Burger", and "Viti Levu Breakfast". She is also the first Fijian to be selling authentic Fijian food to the public on a daily basis.
Kassie is based in Oswestry, a little town in Shropshire and operates from her food stall in Oswestry market. She has gone leaps and bounds to be where she is today. She is no stranger to those that frequent the annual Fiji Day celebrations, as she was a hit when she had a food stall in Leicester.
Recently Kassie was approached by BBC Radio Shropshire, to be interviewed in their Sunday Kitchen segment. That has also placed greater emphasis on her business, and is just one of the many things that is pushing this business, to what Kassie dreams it will ultimately be.
Coming to us from the island of Kadavu, Soso Naceva with maternal origins from Verata Ucunivanua, Tailevu. She first came to the UK in 1998 with her whole family, where her father furthered his studies. A move that would eventually see them making England, home. Below is an account of Kassies food business story, in her own words.
"I have always been into food, for as long as I can remember. Being a Pacific islander I think its fair to say that its very big part of our culture. So I thought I'd put my passion to use and studied Professional cookery for 3 years. I got my certificates and thought I'd add the passion I had for my culture into it. Funny story behind it though. I tried to start this journey by doing healthy eating. My mentor mentioned something that stuck with me. He asked me what sort/ type of cooking I was comfortable with and to stick with it. So here we are! I actually realised after, that Fijian food is also very healthy and very balanced if we look into it properly.
With this business, my inspiration is and has always been my family. My grandmother & my father. Watching them cook and watching my grandmother from a young age cooking, going to sell her food to feed and look after the family.
Doing this has come with many challenges, especially doing this in the UK. Being the first Fijian to serve the public with authentic Fijian food is very hard. I am educating myself and also my consumers about Fijian food,about Fiji and being Fijian. Being the first to do this to non- Fijian customers, there is a barrier I am trying to break. Especially opening up on the edge of Shropshire. I'm needing to travel to bigger cities to get ingredients, but I am also very grateful that most supermarkets sell a lot of things I can work with. However, because most of my customers are non-Fijian and they know nothing about Fijian food, it's a harder market to crack.
I am currently still working towards advertising especially starting this business by myself with little help. I find that social media being free is a big bonus. I also believe in the old school way of word of mouth. I let the taste of my food speak for itself, and I trust that the customers do the advertising for me.
I also find that my fellow Fijians who follow me on social media help further my reach across UK, USA and the Pacific.
I've also found that the best thing about this business is the confidence I get from it and the lessons learnt. I have confidence because I have opened what I believe is the first Fijian food place in the UK (please if there is another that I dont know of, let me know). I get to be my own boss, I interact with people on the daily and talk about my food and my culture.
This has completely changed my life because I feel like I am in control of my future, it comes with many challenges but I would never go back. I will only struggle forward. I eventually want to see a "Kana With Kassie" authentic fijian food restaurant, to run across the UK.
I have a word of advice to anyone wanting to go into this sort of business or just business in general. Look into as much help as you can get.
There is always help if YOU are looking. If you dont ask you wont get. Ask lots of questions! If you have a dream, work towards making it happen because too many of us have let ours die to accommodate our partners or parents dreams.
I started of as a single mum of 4 and was heavily pregnant beginning this new journey. The struggle came with it but i kept the vision and always failed forward! Dont stop until you get there! So if I can do it I believe anyone can!"
Please follow Kana With Kassie on Facebook and also Instagram. She shares the delicacies and the story of her food business in numerous posts, highlighting beautifully in one post why she chose "Kana with Kassie".