By Kemi Mobuse - Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nkem Odewunmi
“Our selling point is really taking everyday ingredients and transforming them into extraordinary food. We also aim to use a lot of local produce wherever possible. And I hope that we can give not just Nigeria, but Nigerian cuisine an appeal that crosses cultures.” – Nkem Odewunmi, Founder and CEO of Food, Fashion and Fusion.

Food, fashion and Fusion (FFF) was founded by Nkem Odewunmi, a lawyer who had spent several years in the corporate and non-profit sectors and interestingly had no formal culinary training. But the sight and aroma of the gorgeous (permit me to use this word) dishes tells otherwise. She is really good and passionate about food. It shows.
Overhead shot of spread resized

Nkem says she has been cooking since she was about eight years old and even as a child she was always intrigued by food – the flavours, the colours, the textures, the preparation and the eating experience. According to her, “Even as a child, I would know if I enjoyed something or something tasted terrible.” “I was that child that would put something in my mouth and would immediately be able to discern the flavours”.

On how she came about the phrase Food Fashion Fusion, she had this to say. “When I started a blog, I was writing about my interest in Food and Fashion; things I liked, trends, things I was doing, things I was buying, things I was wearing. But when I started the company, because of the manner in which I go about preparing my food and eventually presenting the food, I coined what I call “Food Fashion”. So Food Fashion Fusion, beyond just a delicious wholesome meal, is about beautiful, aesthetically pleasing food; this is what Food Fashion Fusion is all about.”

She claims she found support in her family who urged her to go into business and in fact invested in the business after they saw the demand for her food.  Aptly stated on her website, “FFF is a love child that has been nurtured by all who love me and love good food. I have the best support I could ask for. My amazing husband and children keep me grounded while lovingly appreciating and critiquing my culinary endeavors.”

Thai - Style Spicy Jollof Rice

Pounded Yam, Okro and Stew

On her experience over the past years, she admits that “it has been very revealing”. I started off this business, informally, about three years ago. A year into it when I realised it would be a viable venture, I went ahead and fulfilled all the statutory requirements of registering a company, getting corporate bank accounts. So technically it has been a legal entity for about two years now. We are in our third year of operations.

“It has been a very organic growth. So I started in my kitchen, in my home… tiny kitchen. I was just making do with the resource I had available. I was the only staff in the company for the longest time. And after two years I was able to map, you know, develop a business plan and with the support of family and friends who so kindly invested in the company, I was able to take the very bold, scary, logic defying step of stepping out to setup an independent office facility where I could operate from and recruit staff and expand my operations.”

She mentions staffing as a major issue that she is still contending with this. “Just yesterday I conducted interviews looking for people to bring onboard. It hasn’t been a very pleasant experience. And it is quite shocking to me. I have held positions where I had to recruit staff; young graduates for different jobs, and at the time I thought the quality of graduates was bad. If I had known what I was going to experience a few years later, maybe I would have been more lenient or more accommodating. But right now I am hopeful I would eventually find the right people”.

Gourmet Brownie with Dakuwa

Pistachio salted caramel, Ice Cream and Chocolate-dipped Dakuwa

Chocolate-dipped Dakuwa

Nkem admits the internet has helped in the promotion of her business. Yes she gets most of her orders via referrals, she says that an appreciable number of people get in touch with her via her websiteblogFacebook andInstagram pages.

Food Fashion Fusion is going places. Nkem was an official contributor to Expo Milano 2015 and she is currently a member of Kitchen Connection.

Kitchen Connection links people from all over the world through an online social media community and through live video session to either cook together, eat together, or simply share tips, while contributing to the alleviation of global hunger through its partnership with Action Against Hunger.

Every month, Kitchen Connection focuses on a country and their food and culture. The month of May is Nigeria Month on Kitchen Connection. The Nigerian cuisine will be showcased and Nkem will be featured via a live cooking session making an authentic Nigeria meal. The proceeds from her session will be contributed to Action Against Hunger.
Nkem would continue to promote good food and Nigerian cuisine and hopes it would become mainstream globally very soon. She plans to develop more recipes and document the tasty delicacies of Food Fashion and Fusion.

Credit: Innovation Village

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