Meet Tokunbo Koiki, the chef who guarantees that you will leave her kitchen with a new-found appreciation for Nigerian cuisine and culture.
“Oya, come chop at Tokunbo’s Kitchen with other food lovers and feast to your heart’s content because no one leaves a Nigerian kitchen without a full stomach and heart.”
(FYI, to chop = to eat in Pidgin English)
Could going out for “a Nigerian” become as popular a choice as going out for “a Thai” or “an Indian” here in London? Tokunbo thinks so. Since learning to cook beside her mother at the age of 12, she has been entertaining friends and family with her meals. And from 2015, when she first launched her pop-up, street food stall, she has been sharing her talent with the London public. Tokunbo has fed 5,000 people in the two years since her launch and she’s steadily increasing this number through her cookery classes and events.
In fact, she’s done so well that she was recently featured on BBC World Service, promoting West African cuisine. It has been predicted as a big food trend for 2018. Who knew? I just hope that the jollof rice is left to the professionals and that Marco Pierre White doesn’t get his hands on it. After all, we’ve seen what he did to rice & peas…🤢
Starting in the New Year, Tokunbo will be hosting a Supper Club series with a difference. Conversations in Tokunbo’s Kitchen will be a monthly networking event for female entrepreneurs and professional women with an interest in business. Tokunbo will host these networking opportunities, using food as a connector, with the aim of helping the like-minded, professional and supportive women who attend to grow, develop and ultimately gain new business through one another. AND, it’s not too late for you to get in on this! If it sounds like the kind of thing you’ve been waiting for, you can purchase a ticket to the first event of the year through Janet’s List by clicking here.
Anyhoo, I’ve been telling people about cow foot, gizzard and shaki and okra soup and pounded yam for the longest time. So, I am only grateful that Tokunbo is finally bringing Nigerian cuisine to the fore both here in the UK and overseas. Just this October, Tokunbo was representing Nigeria at the New York African Restaurant Week!
There’s something for everyone with West African cuisine – sweet and spicy, meaty and veggie (there are also vegan options! *gasps*), crunchy and soft, *insert range of chosen food descriptors here*, etc. Whatever your tastes, oya! Come chop! But first, read this 😊
Oh, and enjoy!
Hey! Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a single mother of a very vivacious ten year old daughter. I am also the founder of Tokunbo’s Kitchen, a pop-up service enabling people from all cultures to discover and enjoy the culinary delight that is Nigerian food.
Yes sis! Now we are talking. I always take great delight in Nigerian food 😋 But, first things first, what time do you get up on a typical weekday morning?
Between 5am and 7am if I have an event and need to start prepping at home. If I have only admin work then my day tends to start a bit later. My alarm is set for 5:30am but I will usually get up sometime between 6am and 7am.
Oh, so snooze is your friend too? 😏🙃 What is the first thing you do?
Truthfully…I check my phone and open up Twitter. But, I am attempting to get back to my old routine of starting my day meditating and journaling with some dance exercise videos in the mix.
Sounds like a plan. However, you might as well wait until 2018 to resurrect this habit. Can I get an “AMEN”? *insert tumbleweed and birds chirping* Ahem, when does your daughter rise?
I gently wake her up fifteen minutes before she actually needs to be up and then I give her a warning call at the exact time! She is old enough to get herself ready now so I finish getting myself ready if we’re heading out together.
Wait…so, no shouting in the morning? Did I get that right? Sounds like a dream! 😢 What time do you guys leave the house?
We leave the house between 08:15 and 08:30am depending on if I am driving. Typically, we take the same bus and she gets off at her school stop whilst I carry on my journey to the BDC workspace at the Business Design Centre.
That sounds interesting. So you use a co-working space?
I try to go as often as I can. While I am there I will plan my events and activities for the week, as well as to catch up on any admin work or any marketing for upcoming events. I will also check twitter incessantly the whole time…
#LeSigh 😔 Does your addiction allow you to stop for lunch? 😋
I am not really a lunch person as I am not a great fan of sandwiches, much preferring a hot meal. So, I find my choices limited, due to having, as a friend once told me, “a sophisticated palate” when it comes to food… However, I will force myself to find something to eat, depending on how hungry I get.
I would expect nothing less, tbh…😏 So, you’re starving. What next? 🙃
I check twitter. Then, I will go pick my daughter up from school and we will head home together. We get back by about 4pm. I then try to dedicate the next few hours until dinnertime to her.
Aw, that’s cute! 💛 But, your belly must be eating itself by now. Can we please talk about dinner?
There is no set dinner time in the house, but I usually try to ensure we eat by 7pm. It is often 80% Nigerian. Pounded yam and okra stew is a firm favourite. Sometimes we use Nigerian flavours in non-traditional ways, so Suya chicken wings and mashed potatoes is a weekly tradition. Dinner making tends to fall to me, though I have been getting my daughter to help out more. She is now able to make basic meals for herself on days when I am just too tired to make it happen.
Sorry, I was just mopping up my saliva from the floor. Apologies. Moving on quickly, what happens after dinnertime?
We go off to our respective rooms. My daughter’s bedtime is 8pm, although she tends to finally sleep off sometime between 9 and 10pm. I will usually get back to work, relax to some music or just waste precious hours online being entertained by my Twitter timeline! But once in a while, I force myself off Twitter and pick up a book to read instead.
Yo! This Twitter addiction is real! Does it allow you to sleep?
Yes, I go to bed between 10pm and midnight, depending on how interesting twitter is! On the odd occasion, I have been known to switch off completely and be in bed by 8pm from sheer exhaustion!
My dear, I do not blame you! My eyes are burning and I haven’t even checked Twitter…yet 👀 Be honest, how heavily does social media feature in your day?
LOL. Ermmm, I might have a tad bit of an addiction to Twitter. But, it has also been very necessary and beneficial to getting my brand story out there.
Tokunbo hosts pop-up kitchen events throughout the year. You can check in with her on the website here to find out when the next event is happening 😋
She also keeps Instagram updated. Follow her here and feed at least one of your senses with images of her delicious food 😋
Better still, why not follow her on Twitter! You know she’s on there ALOT! @tokunboskitchen 😋