The Reluctant Cook - My Food Journey

By Tokunbo, 14 March, 2016

So I have a somewhat shocking secret to share – I am not a foodie *insert covered face emoji*

“But wait are you not Tokunbo of Tokunbo’s Kitchen?”

Yes indeed I am. You see, what I am trying to say is that I am not a foodie in the sense that I am quite fussy about what I eat. However I enjoy cooking and I especially love creating meals for others and seeing the satisfaction on their faces. It’s a feeling second to none.

My mother taught me how to cook at an early age; it was a rite of passage so I could cook for my family in the future. As a fussy eater there were certain meals I enjoyed more than others so I learnt to cook those to the point of perfection. This meant whenever we had visitors, my mother would brag about my cooking skills, and naturally said visitor would ask to sample this infamous dish of mine. For most of my life cooking was more of a chore rather than something to be enjoyed.

My initial attitude to food started to change when I realised that not every girl child was forced to learn to cook as I was! And more importantly not everyone that could cook was actually a good cook but that’s a story for another day. The next defining moment for me was the year I lived in DC in which a huge part of my social life revolved around eating and brunching. I remember one occasion, in which I cooked plantain and fried eggs for a friend who had dropped by unexpectedly. To watch him eat this simple meal with such gusto left me feeling amazed and with a great sense of excitement that my cooking could bring so much joy to another person. That occasion and similar experiences stayed with me but my official catering venture unofficially began the day I catered a close friend’s party. I cooked all the meals entirely by myself including the party jollof rice; the one dish that had been mostly misses my whole life! This time it was a hit, I had found my cooking groove and I can’t even begin to describe the sense of accomplishment I felt that day.

The final push I needed to turn my new found passion into a business venture happened the night after I had waited TWO hours; no I kid you not, for jerk chicken at a garden party/festival last summer. This experience coupled with my frustration at a lack of Nigerian and West African food stalls at markets and festivals led to ‘Tee’s Food Corner.’ My intention was to operate a pop up stall selling Nigerian street food and it launched at Africa Utopia last September to great reception. Following that, I ran the first West African food stall to feature at the Truman Brewery Upmarket in Brick Lane during the Christmas period.

Tokunbo’s Kitchen started as a way to enable those who are not able to experience Tee’s Food Corner but would still like the opportunity to enjoy authentic Nigerian food within an informal and social experience.

So what are you waiting for…Food is ready, Oya Come Chop!


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