Sue Butowsky: “I would like White River to become the Food Hub of Mpumalanga. There is lots of talent here and so many things to be proud of, we all need to work together as a team and then anything is possible.”
Her wild mop of blonde hair and ready smile have greeted customers at Zannas and the Casterbridge Cinema for years, but the 13th June 2015 saw Sue donning a new cap when the first Bagdad Farmers Market opened.
The brainchild of Sue and local farmer Rowena Tyson, Bagdad Farmers Market took off like an Olympic sprinter and hasn’t looked back. The second Saturday of every month is in many diaries and people come from far afield to nibble on samples of cheese, chorizo, pickles and olives, snap up handmade soaps, buy farm fresh vegetables and fruits, handmade shoes, clothing and accessories before getting down to serious tasting of craft beer, frozen cocktails and guzzling down lip-smacking food made by local foodies while you wait.
It doesn’t just happen, though. Promoting and publicising the market is a daily grind throughout the month. Sue is perpetually posting on social media sites across the country, raising awareness of the market and White River – she never stops reminding the world at large what a gregarious occasion the monthly market is – get the shopping and browsing out of the way, then linger on to socialise and catch up with friends.
Sue is uncompromising when it comes to stall and product standards, as well. She’s quick to encourage small entrepreneurs, but the product must be original, handmade / grown and local if possible and of excellent quality. Her hand is firmly on the tiller, ensuring that visitors will never be disappointed by the range and quality on offer. She loves what she does, though, so work becomes pleasure and there is no distinction between the two for her.
Growing up in London, her mum believed the whole family took part in preparing family meals. Everything was prepared from scratch and nothing went to waste. A weekend tradition was their family trip to a museum or park followed by a visit to a café, which perhaps influenced her first job, at age 12, in a trendy café called ‘Say Cheese’ and her love of food and the industry was born. She had to choose between her desire to become a swimming teacher and a chef, and White River foodies are grateful for the choice she made!
A passion for travel and exploring the world has sent her to many interesting places and inspires her creative food ideas. A true gourmand, Sue reads extensively and follows chefs and eating establishment around the world, keeping tabs on new trends and ideas.
Her vision is “to remain passionate about what I do, move with the times, listen to customers, be consistent and remain true to myself.”
And that is why lucky White River got the Bagdad Farmers Market, a monthly fresh produce hub displaying local talent and wares that brings visitors into our town.