Capsicum Culinary Studio and JAG Communications have brought us this interview with Chef Lakie, Laken Charmaine Chinyande, discussing her introduction to the culinary world, as well as her private catering company, Lakie’s Bites. Chef Lakie also goes on to share one of her recipes, a healthy Mexican Pulled Chicken Bowl.

Laken Charmaine Chinyande’s love for cooking began at a very young age and, as early as she can remember, she has been fascinated and intrigued by the process of creating something delicious from simple ingredients.

“Watching family members cook, experimenting in the kitchen, and the joy of sharing food with loved ones have all fuelled my passion for cooking,” she says.

Now, 27-years-old and living in Midrand, Chinyande is the owner of a healthy meal prep and private catering company, Lakie’s Bites. She started Lakie’s Bites after the lockdown to help people stay on track with their health goals.

Chinyande or, as she prefers to be known, Chef Lakie, graduated from Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Pretoria campus in 2020 with a Professional Chef Qualification. She says she chose to study at Capsicum Culinary Studio because of its reputation as one of the leading culinary schools in the country, and because it “offers a dynamic learning environment that combines theoretical knowledge with practical skills, ensuring that students are well-prepared for the demands of the culinary industry.

Chef Lakie

“Additionally, the school’s emphasis on creativity, innovation, and excellence resonated with my own aspirations as a budding chef,” she says.

Talking about Lakie’s Bites, she says, “The idea came to life when I noticed a gap in the market for healthy and convenient meal preps. This realisation hit home when my brother and his colleagues began asking me to prepare healthy lunches they could take to work, avoiding the need to order unhealthy options.”

Since then, Lakie’s Bites has grown into one of Gauteng’s top healthy meal prepping companies, offering customised meal plans to suit any dietary needs.

“We collaborate with dietitians to ensure our clients receive the right nutrition tailored to their specific requirements. Our primary goal is to bring convenience to our clients’ lives with ready-made meals, which has been a lifesaver for busy professionals, gym enthusiasts, moms and families.

“In addition to meal prepping, our private catering services are designed to not only be delicious, but to also to add a touch of class and elegance to any event. We take pride in presenting aesthetically pleasing dishes that enhance the overall experience of any occasion.”

Lakie's Bites range

Lakie’s Bites also offers cooking classes for individuals, groups, and corporate team-building events, helping participants hone their cooking skills or learn new techniques.

“Our team-building classes are especially popular, as they are not only fun but also promote camaraderie among friends and colleagues,” says Chef Lakie.

On where she gets her inspiration, “I draw inspiration for the meals we sell at Lakie’s Bites from a variety of sources. Firstly, my passion for cooking and my desire to create healthy, delicious, and convenient meals drive my creativity. I am constantly exploring new recipes and culinary techniques to ensure our offerings are both nutritious and flavourful. I also keep a close eye on current food trends and innovations in the culinary world. This helps me incorporate modern twists into our meal preps and catering services, keeping them exciting and relevant for our clients.

“Feedback from our clients plays a crucial role as well. Understanding their preferences, dietary needs, and favourite flavours allows me to tailor our offerings to meet their expectations and beyond.

“Collaborating with dietitians also provides insights into creating balanced and health-focused meals that cater to specific nutritional requirements. This blend of personal passion, client feedback, and collaborating with dietitians ensures that Lakie’s Bites consistently delivers delicious, health-conscious meals that delight and satisfy our clients.”

Chef Lakie says her most popular meals include the Chicken & Beef Taco Bowls from the High Protein menu, which are a hit among those looking to boost their protein intake; the Vegan Curries are also a favourite, offering a flavourful and satisfying option for plant-based clients; and from her regular menu, the stews are a crowd pleaser, as is the spiced cauli-rice, which is particularly popular among clients following no-carb or Keto diets.

On where she sees Lakie’s Bites in 5 years’ time, “I envision Lakie’s Bites expanding its reach internationally, beyond the borders of South Africa and Zimbabwe. My goal is to offer our healthy meal preps, private catering services, and cooking classes to a global audience, providing healthy convenience to even more people. Additionally, I’d like to establish a cooking academy dedicated to enriching others with cooking skills and knowledge, highlighting the importance and value of the culinary profession, which I believe is often overlooked. By creating a space for learning and growth, I hope to inspire and equip the next generation of chefs and culinary enthusiasts.”

JAG Communications asked Chef Lakie to answer a few quick-fire questions and requested a favourite recipe.

Her favourite snack? Butter-flavoured microwave popcorn.

What five items are always in her fridge? Crushed garlic & ginger, unsalted butter, fresh milk, sauces (usually soy and sweet chilli sauce), and water.

What would she make to impress someone? Red wine braised lamb shank on creamy mash and sautéed garlicy broccolini.

Does she have a simple recipe that she can share? She shares her recipe for a healthy Mexican Pulled Chicken Bowl:


For the pulled chicken:

3 skinned chicken breasts

¼ cup oil

3 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Mexican chicken bowl

1 tsp salt chicken spice (optional)

black pepper

zest of 1 lime

1 cup chicken stock

oil for frying

lime zest for garnish

coriander for garnish


In a bowl, mix oil, spices and lime zest. Add the chicken breasts and coat fully. Cover the chicken and refrigerate for 20-30mins. Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Fry the chicken breasts on low heat for 3-5 mins on both sides. Add the chicken stock, then cover and cook for 10-12 mins till the stock is reduced and the chicken is fully cooked. Avoid overcooking the chicken as it will get tough. Once cooked, transfer the chicken breasts to a bowl and let them rest for 5-8mins. Get two forks and shred the chicken breasts then add lime zest and chopped coriander.

For the Mexican Rice:

1 cup cooked rice

1 cup canned kidney beans or black beans

½ red pepper, chopped

½ red onion, chopped

1 tsp paprika

½ tsp ground cumin

chilli (optional)

1 tsp lime zest

handful coriander

salt and pepper

oil for cooking

½ cup cooked sweetcorn

6 rosa tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, chopped into bite-size pieces

½ cucumber, diced

rocket leaves


Fry onion, red pepper, paprika, cumin and chilli if using. Add the beans. Add rice, coriander, lime zest and season well.  Cook for 3-5 mins. To assemble, lay the rocket leaves in a bowl. Add the rice then add sweet corn, halved rosa tomatoes, avocado, and cucumber. Top with the pulled chicken. Serve and enjoy!