Chef Isie on 100% Satisfaction
by Ladun Ogidan
Chef Isie is the founder/head chef at Chowstation. In this interview with Omenka, he discusses his culinary inspiration, as well as the decisions that led to becoming a professional chef.
You studied mass communication at Covenant University, Ota. How did you make the switch to cooking as a profession, was it a conscious decision or accidental?
Taking on a career as a chef grew out of passion. I fell in love with cooking 3 years ago while working for SO&U ltd as a junior brand manager. Although it was a great place to work, I was restless and thought I needed to do more than work in a building for the whole day. Some other convincing reasons led to the conscious decision to hang my corporate shoes and put on the crocs! I resigned from my office and attended a professional chef course at Reddish Chronicles.
How do you describe your cuisine and what has been your reception been like since you started?
My personal cooking slogan is ‘freshly delicious’, and it translates to how rich and flavourful my dishes are supposed to be. I’m specific about using quality vegetables, as well as creative sauces and spices. Since I started, I’ve had to keep proving to others how passionate I am about helping people experience the joy of eating good food. It’s been quite challenging, but I’m working through that.
What quality defines your brand and sets it apart from others?
Well, I am a foodie, so I serve people how I would like to be served. No matter how small my dishes are, I make sure nothing is amiss when it comes to taste and look! The ‘mede mede’ and ‘orishirishi’ must be complete! It is mandatory that after you eat from my pot, you will be 100% satisfied!
Do you source as much local produce as possible for your dishes, and what is your favourite local ingredient to work with?
My menu is also made up of African, Asian and fast food dishes. I incorporate some local products and fruits to give it a Naija vibe. For some of my sauces, I like to work with what is in season. I mostly use fruits like pineapples, oranges, mangos, agbalumos (cherries), and a blend of peppers such as atarodo and tatashe to spice up dishes.
Who has been your biggest influence?
My wife has been the strongest influence in my career. She is my consultant, my chief taster, my support system, and an all-around perfect wife!
In your opinion, how has the food industry changed over the past few years in your opinion?
I think the industry has changed in a favourable light because of standards chefs/cooks are meeting. One can’t help but be excited about the potential available now. Although, the level of professionalism is in dire need of an upgrade and food costs needs to be more realistic for consumers. It always bugs me to see a simple dish priced at such a ridiculous fee.
Tell me about an accomplishment in the course of your career that you are most proud of.
Well, I can say I am relatively still young in the game, but my most inspirational accomplishment was winning the Maggi Mystery Box challenge organised by Maggi during the Eatdrinklagos Festival. My partner Chef Onyeka and I were mostly recognised for our creativity in re-imagining a jollof rice dish. It was so much fun.
If you could cook for anyone, who would it be?
I would like to cook for someone who’s interested in trying new things, who challenges me to create and expand my ideas. Perhaps, cooking for Facebook staff, Guy Fieri or for Elon Musk would be very exciting for me.
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