In this interview with eTimes News , Chiamaka Onyebuchi the founder of Amandaz Kitchen, an online food service firm located in Lagos. She specializes in native African foods, speaks on so many issues such as; What is so about the catering industry such as quackery and motherhood.
Can we know about you?
Well, my name is Chiamaka Onyebuchi. I was born into a simple but close knitted family of six and from Amichi in Nnewi south of Anambra . I grew up in a lovely and serene town of Owerri, the capital Imo State. Am blessed with a lovely husband and two angels. I am an accountant by profession. Did all my education in Imo State though I am from Anambra.
What actually prompted you into cooking?
What actually prompted me into catering is PASSION. My mum was a great cook that people always come to eat in our house. I developed the love for cooking because I love good food. Partly , I can say that passion drove me into this and also my Mum was a good cook. She influenced me also, as the only girl in the family having a mother that her taste for good food is superb, there is nothing I could have done rather, to fall in line. And that fall in line is what I am basically doing. So these are the things that made me love cooking. Also Growing up, I noticed that people loved my cooking a lot and I most times do this with pleasure without minding the stress that is always associated with cooking, such as cutting the leaves, the oils and the stains. Cooking can be stressful,especially most African food,but that is by the way. Then, people that are close to me noticed the enthusiasm in me about cooking /food and advised that I can go into catering. That was how it all started.
As a mother of two, how are you juggling the two jobs?
Motherhood is a full time job and is for life. Managing both of them has not really been easy cos it requires full attention. With God on our side, all things are possible. Also, I think that women naturally are gifted with multitasking abilities. It is in built-thing and God has made us that way. Though, it can be overwhelming, but we still give God the glory.
What are the few challenges that you have encountered doing this business?
Well, every business in Nigeria has challenges, I think publicity is one thing. Just like in every other thing we do in life. Here,people are a bit scary, not that they don’t want good food but where to get wholly made food. We have seen a lot of short cuts in food and catering industry, take for instance, a situation that colouring is being added to the red oil to make it more appealing or a situation that people use some weird seasoning to make their soup sweeter. These are few short cuts that most caterers employ. Though this step that they take makes money for them,but it is injurious to health. The negative effect and it has a spill over effect on us that offer quality and wholesome meals for families. So I think that the main challenge is publicity. By this, I mean, how will people know that I offer wholesome meals? You know they won’t be there in the kitchen with you. So it takes a whole lot of time to let them know this and we hope they give us a trial. I think publicity is one key thing. Also publicity in the area that, people are going to quick fix restaurants and eating junks. This is evident in the type of sicknesses around such as diabetes and a whole lot of funny stuff. Well, some can be attributed to what they eat. In a city like Lagos, where everybody is on the move,what we do is that we let the family outsource their meals with us. We cook what the family eats for the whole week and send it to them over the weekend. They can refrigerate it.
“I noticed that people loved my cooking a lot and I most times do this with pleasure without minding the stress that is always associated with cooking, such as cutting the leaves, the oils and the stains. Cooking can be stressful,especially most African food,but that is by the way. Then, people that were close to me noticed the enthusiasm in me about cooking food and advised that I can go into catering. That was how it all started.”
Many businesses like yours have a physical address,but your approach is different, what prompted this?
My business is registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission here in Lagos. Also, don’t forget that the dynamic of business has changed, we don’t do business the way our parents did theirs in the early 80s.We are in an ICT driven world also and we must key into this concept. Those days, you can stay in your business premises and clients will walk in but these days, you will have to take your business and solutions to the prospective clients. ICT has changed the dynamic and catering business isn’t left behind. We are in an electronic driven world and you need to start from somewhere. My approach to business approach is quite different cos i need to convince people that this is exactly what I can do. Many businesses fold up cos of lack of expertise before venturing into it. But, I will have my office space in the nearest future.But as of now, my virtual office is there and people can contact me via my social media pages and other electronic means. What matters is the quality of service you get, not physical presence which will always come. Very soon, I must say.
What are the things that set you aside?
Apart from education, experience in customer service and relations. Our key selling point is quality, affordability and our particular approach to hygiene. There are caterers and there are caterers. My main selling point is Quality and affordability . I offer a quality meal at an affordable rate. I believe in specialization for a start. Igbo adage said” that you cannot put all your fingers in your mouth at the same time, it is not possible.” I believe in taking a step at a time. We also specialize in native food. That is one niche area,we will want to play and make our name. That’s basically why we specialize in native foods not pastries. Native food gives you originality and bring you close to nature. Amanda’s will be on their lips.
What advice do you have for women that are considering what to do and how to combine motherhood with their jobs?
My advice to Mothers. Always follow your passion. Life is not easy but we must keep on hustling with God on our side.
“I offer a quality meal at an affordable rate. I believe in specialization for a start. Igbo adage said” that you cannot put all your fingers in your mouth at the same time, it is not possible.”