The Camera wielding Chilli Sauce Warrior
Meet Eugene "Kiellie" Rukoro, an Afronaut, entrepreneur and Game changer from Namibia on a mission to bring hot Chilli sauce flavours to your dishes. He is at the forefront of the Namibian Hot Chilli sauce scene, a talented photographer and he studied Bachelor of Science major in Chemistry and Micromolecular&Physiological Biology at the University of Namibia.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Eugene and find out more about his Kiellie Chilli sauce and ekrphotos ventures.
Part 1 The Kiellie Chilli Sauce warrior
Afronaut: Hi Eugene how are you,can you tell us more about yourself?
Eugene: Hi I am Eugene "Kiellie" Rukoro, born and bred in Windhoek, Namibia.
I grew up with a dad that cooks, so it wasn't strange to see a man in the kitchen.
I have always loved cooking and experimenting with different combinations of flavours, flavours that might seem strange to someone...in my head the flavours work and when I actually do make what I think of on most occasions, it works!
I have also been blessed with an artistic talent and enjoy capturing everyday moments and people through my camera lens.
Back at university I dropped the art and decided to rather pursue a career in science, as our then president kept saying Namibia needs more scientists. Artists at that time did not really look like they could ever be financially stable with just their craft.
Afronaut: Eugene before I get your photography lets talk about Kiellie Chilli Sauce. The most obvious questions is why hot sauce – where did the idea come from for you to get involved doing this?
Eugene: So this one day I was watching seemingly random videos on Youtube and it so happens that I watched a "How it's Made " video on how Tabasco hot sauce is made.
I fell in love with the simplicity and elegance of the process and ingredients, so I thought to myself how about I make my own! A few days later I was walking through the supermarket and I stumbled upon this pack of fresh chillies that were marked down and super cheap so I just bought them! I thought of dishes I would make that would need some chilli, but I had much more chillies than I needed and I just thought to myself "well here's your chance to make your own sauce then!" My whole family calls me Kiellie since I was a baby, so I thought it would be fitting to call my Chilli sauce venture which I started in August 2021 Kiellie Chilli Sauce.
I imagined that if I added garlic to mine it would make it tasty and tomatoes and onions for the umami and sweetness...oh and I was on holiday in Thailand once and the foods and flavours there are just amazing! So I decided to add ginger too becausee the combination of ginger and garlic is very common in Asian food. And just to add a spark to the pallet I thought to have something citrus in the sauce. and that is how I came up with my Kiellie Chilli sauce.
Afronaut: Interesting and how was the very first responses when people tasted?
Eugene: I started selling my chilli sauce to my family, friends and colleagues at work and they all loved it! I was told that this sauce could really become a big thing, so I thought to myself that if it was to be taken serious, it has to look like a product one would want to buy.
I designed the label from scratch and printed on different materials, tested it until I felt confident that I have made the most visually pleasing product.
Afronaut: How many Chilli sauce variants do you produce?
Eugene: For now I only have one variant of sauce and a chilli paste that is still in concept mode. The chilli paste is slightly hotter and and has different serving suggestions (it is something that is exciting me as I am sharing this with you)
Afronaut: Where is your product available?
Eugene: Currently I am supplying Kiellie Chilli sauce to Cafe Moro in Windhoek, Namibia. I am planning to soon expand to more local cafes and restaurants and further expand my footprint to retailers in Namibia and beyond. My chilli sauces can also be ordered online on my FB page.
Afronaut: Where do you see the future of hot sauce in Namibia?
Eugene: I see Namibia catching up with the rest of the world. Naturally Namibians love hot spices.I have noticed many people eating hot sauces for the health benefits and enjoying it. Hotter sauces will grow in popularity but people also want hot with flavour and variety.
I think in 5 years in a trip to the grocery store you will have to choose from many different Kiellie Chilli sauces.
The CAMERA WIELDING PHOTOGRAPHER
Eugene is blessed with an eye for details. He uses his natural given talent to document the dynamic energy of people.With his photography he articulates moments through the camera.
Afronaut: Eugene you are in love with photography tell us more about that?
Eugene: I have been blessed with an artistic talent and in high-school I had Visual Art as a subject. I had it all the way till Grade 12...it ended up being my highest scoring subject, followed by physical science and biology.
Photography is a way for me to express my creativity and also show people how I see them...beautiful, to be adored and celebrated. I have been shooting since 2012!
My very first paying gig was a kiddies party and I enjoyed it so much.
My very first wedding was so nerve wrecking, I was so nervous that I would mess things up or end up with disappointing imaqes...but it seems the photography gods smiled upon me!
Afronaut:What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Eugene: I don't know...I feel everything I have experienced so far has brought me to where I am and this is still not it for me, I'm growing and learning. The only thing I wish I knew was just how expensive this is! But the joy that comes with replicating what you imagined and it actually comes out just as you had imagined it is just worth it!
Afronaut: How did you get good at photography?
Eugene: I identified local photographers in Namibia that I felt were good and I asked them if I could join them on shoots and assist where needed...holding lights or reflectors. That was where I learned the most in the shortest time.
When I got my first DSLR a Nikon D3100, I attended an introductory course to familiarize myself with my camera and. When I evolved to flash photography I attended another workshop to master my lighting and this really transformed my photography to new levels.
Afronaut: What gear do you use?
Eugene: I currently shoot with a Nikon D800. I usually carry with me my trusted Tamron 24-70mm and Tamron 70-200mm and do not come to a shoot without a flash in a softbox.
Afronaut: Which lens is your favorite? Why?
Eugene: I have two favourites, I love the 24-70 for it's flexible range especially when I'm shooting a wedding in a church or when I am shooting an event indoors. I love shooting with the 70-200 when I'm doing headshots or macroshots.
Afronaut: When you go out to shoot, do you take any essential items other than a camera and lens?
Eugene: A reflector and extra batteries for the flashes and the camera too! When you are shooting on location it is sometimes a list of things I feel we often overlook...a bottle of water and a soda or juice and snacks and comfortable shoes. I advise my clients to bring these things
Afronaut: What are your favorite settings/ subjects?
Eugene: I love the outdoors and nature always gets me excited and most importantly my fellow human beings.
Afronaut: Eugene, thank you for your time to open up your world to us. All the best with your future endeavours.
Eugene: The pleasure was all mine.
*All photos provided by Eugene Rukoro & ekr photos
Facebook: Eugene Kiellie Rukoro Anderson
Mobile/ WhatsApp: +264 81 293 0902
Instagram: @ekrukoro, @ekrphotos