Nezaa Bandele’s food tells the story of the places she has been to and the people she has met along the way. She was born in Jamaica, was raised in Canada, and she now lives in Detroit… so you know she has quite a few stories cooking. Mama Nezaa, as she is more commonly known in her community, is bringing locally-sourced, plant-based cuisine with Paradise Natural Foods, where she works to create a community of wellness while bringing people from all walks of life together in their journey toward healthier eating.
Mama Nezaa enrolled and graduated from ProsperUs Detroit’s Entrepreneur Training, where she learned how to successfully operate her own business and get acquainted with the local business ecosystem. She also competed and was one of 4 finalists in the HATCH Detroit competition during 2018, where she received support needed to get her business through this pandemic. And although she has struggled as a Black woman, having to “work twice as hard to navigate structural challenges”, she has found the support to expand her network and continue her journey in feeding her community. She is a natural-born go-getter and doesn’t let barriers hold her back.
Mama Nezaa originally wanted to be a naturopathic doctor, so she studied health and wellness on her own, alongside other healers, and even traveled abroad to study an entire summer in Egypt during 1987. Later in life, in the late 2000s, she studied Community Health Education and Dietetics at Wayne State University with a Minor in Cultural Anthropology, and she also holds a degree in Science and Nutrition Biology from Wayne County Community College. She ensures that her menu is science-based and education-based, and combines that with her love for making food to allow the dishes to tell their own stories.
Mama Nezaa has big projects for Paradise Natural Foods coming up. She plans to move into a brick-and-mortar by the end of 2021 where the menu will include some chicken and seafood, but plants are still going to be the star of the plate!