Miss Mandi is a radio host, digital storyteller and the Queen of Throwdowns. She’s back with a new season of ‘Kenyan Christmas Throwdowns’ this December in a series filled with delicious recipes, engaging content, extra hacks plus tips to elevate classic festive dishes.
In line with her mission to make clean and healthy eating both affordable and delicious, Miss Mandi recently released her first eBook cook book “Fuel Your Body Goals” that is a beginners’ guide to clean eating. In addition, she has diversified her brand to start offering merchandise under her ‘MMTD Merch’ brand for aprons and t-shirts.
She shared her journey with us, revealed something she’s never revealed before in an interview and how she’s drawing inspiration from Martha Stewart.
How was it like coming up with ‘Fuel Your Body Goals’?
I narrowed it down to affordability, accessibility and just trying to minimize the spices because I didn’t want somebody to be introduced to my book with just so many things and they’re like, “what do I do with all these things?”
You’ve been working on another eBook. How will your second one be different from your first one?
The first book is more about teaching you how eat clean and simplifying the big words. The upcoming eBook will focus on spices and the thing that I feel most people don’t know is, fine, yes I’ve introduced you to a certain spice but how many other ways can you use it? I’m also teaching how to make grubs, pastes… so just generally things you have in the house and how to utilize them.
You were among the first few Kenyans to start sharing recipes, cooking tips on digital platforms. How has the journey been like for you?
It’s been beautiful being in the space. First of all I started to share my food online because when I moved back home I started to be trolled based on my accent, oh I have a voice for radio… so I was like let me put my food together and share and see where this takes me. What’s been so beautiful for me to see is that my first ever post has the hashtag #MissMandiThrowdown from many years ago and it’s shown me the power of digital, hashtags and there’s been great learning curves along the way like how I met my food photographer, collaborating and learning about buying props. It’s also been a teaching point for me and I’m still learning more.
What’s was the idea behind Kenyan Christmas Throwdowns?
Christmas is a very dope holiday for me because it has so many childhood memories. I loved travelling to the Coast when I was little and it was everything for me; the pilau was on smash, the biryani, eating kaimati for breakfast, the family aspect, how food brings people together and the fact that the men in our family end up cooking so it’s like the women kinda take a seat back. I wanted to put a play on it; how can we elevate what we usually just eat for Christmas to a higher level.
How is it like balancing between being a foodie and a media personality?
It’s been good to balance both and I say so because both of the shows I’ve been given are all evening shows so I have time during the day to source, shoot, get a bit more creative and yeah, it has not been weird at all and it’s more like I can do both.
Tell us about your fitness journey; what prompted it?
Oh wow. Hmm… I’ve never said this before… so I was on a Skype call once with a former partner, laying down and my tummy seemingly flat. I turned then, of course, it wasn’t flat anymore and I was like, NO! This can’t be it, I seriously can’t continue like this! (laughs) From then I went and met with Shiv, my trainer, and after he took a few measurements and told me I have the body of like a 30-something-year-old yet I was in my early twenties then, I had now more resolve and I was like we have to do something about it. It’s been a beautiful journey because now I even have a better relationship with food. I can go anywhere and I’ll know what I should or shouldn’t be eating, the moderation that I should be eating in so it’s really given me so much more insight into my food and that’s why my first eBook is ‘Fuel Your Body Goals.’
Having collaborated with different brands, do you think that’s helped push your brand even further?
I think what helps push your brand is yourself. Are you taking yourself to spaces where you’re going to network with people, are you utilizing the networks within your friendship circle? Because a lot of times we have friends who have access to things and we just never ask them. Something I also keep in my mind is that it’s the projects that you do that attract the brand. It’s always been my passion projects that’s raised curiosity in people and has, in turn, opened new doors as I keep on pitching my ideas.
What’s been your biggest highlight so far over the years you’ve been in the food and larger creative space?
I just had to pay 15 people for Kenyan Christmas Throwdown (all laughs). That’s been my biggest adulting thing yet! Everything else has been small-scale; it’s usually just me, my photographer and videographer or just me, photographer and illustrator. So it hasn’t been me leading a team and they’re looking to me for payment and all that. This is my biggest project so far.
How did you decide to tie in your merchandise to your work as a foodie?
I say a lot of quirky food quotes like I can just be randomly having wine with my girls and I’m like, ‘you can’t eat me cause I’m the groceries’ and they’re like that should be on a t-shirt. I didn’t think too much of it until I was like, let me just try with an apron you know. I had noticed that no food blogger was giving me physical product outside of a cook book and that’s what I want to do, I want to be like a Martha Stewart.
Do you have a favourite recipe?
I think it happens in phases. In like three months I can re-do the same thing… I’m not too sure I have a favourite recipe but I do have a favourite cuisine, Italian. And the thing with like pasta is it’s a once in a month treat for people who want to keep it balanced. It’s also interesting how every time I travel is when I eat pasta so I’m turning thirty soon and I want to gift myself a trip to Italy and just be in that space even their food is very weigh-gaining food (all laughs).
Are there any food personalities that you follow and aspire to?
Oh yes! I love Siba’s brand and what she’s managed to do with it, I really admire Jamie Oliver with him opening up restaurants across the globe and definitely Chef Ramsey. And the thing that I admire about him is that he is who he is; he’s very blunt, he yells… but then again he’s a man and he’s not likely to be told to tone it down a bit. I just love who he is, I love when people are their true selves.