A trailblazing brother and sister duo are taking steps to make an even bigger mark on the UK food industry by embarking on a crowdfunding campaign for the permanent home of their business, Chuku’s, the first Nigerian Tapas restaurant.
With countless video chefs on YouTube producing exquisite looking Nigerian food, events such as Jollof Festival, celebrating World Jollof Rice Day and even main stream recognition of West African cuisine being heralded as the next big food trend and it’s clear that the Nigerian foodie revolution has begun.
Raising the bar a couple of notches is Chuku’s, the world’s first Nigerian tapas concept. Founders, brother and sister duo, British-Nigerian Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick, have launched a crowd-funding campaign for their first permanent restaurant home – with plans to open in Tottenham, London.
Since launching Chuku’s in 2016, the enterprising duo have confidently made their mark within the food industry. Chuku’s has been recommended by Time Out and featured in over 20 media outlets including The Evening Standard. Chuku’s is gaining accolades as an industry pioneer with award recognition as the winners of a Virgin global entrepreneurship competition in 2016 and finalists for the 2017 Black British Business Awards.
“Well, we wanted to give people the opportunity to discover as much of Nigeria as possible in one meal. Offering guests several sharing plates of Nigerian flavours meant we could do just that.”
The entrepreneurial duo have also been named one of the top 20 Most Exciting Entrepreneurs in 2019 and one of the 15 Most Exciting Food and Drink Entrepreneurs in the UK in 2018 following by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, following their shortlisting as finalist in last year’s award.
So how did it all begin? Ifeyinwa describes the moment, decades ago, when the seed was sown: “It was lunchtime – the moment we’d been waiting for. That day we had extra reason to look forward to it as we knew we were going to enjoy leftovers from our Mum’s party that weekend.” After opening their packed lunches, their white schoolfriends who peered into their lunch boxes, and asked: “What’s that orange rice”? As Ifeyinwa explains: “Of course it was Jollof Rice, but we didn’t quite know how to explain something that was so common to us. It was a conversation that we found ourselves having again and again over the next 20 years.”
Once the duo reached their twenties, they finally decided to “stop wishing and start doing” something about raising awareness and appreciation for the beauty of their culture and to ensure that the foods were as recognisable as a chicken fried rice or a curry. After all, what better way to explore a culture than through food?” And why Tapas? “Well, we wanted to give people the opportunity to discover as much of Nigeria as possible in one meal. Offering guests several sharing plates of Nigerian flavours meant we could do just that.”
Chuku’s has already enjoyed considerable success with foodies all over the UK. Now, after three years of sell-out pop-ups, thousands of delighted guests and critical acclaim, they are crowdfunding for their first permanent restaurant home set to be in Tottenham, north London.
They have already had plenty of practice of restaurant life through numerous pop ups where guests enjoy sharing plates of Nigerian dishes against a backdrop of Nigerian rhythmic afrobeats, contemporary art and street photography, to give guests a taste of Lagos – Nigeria’s cultural capital – in the heart of London.
Their cultural immersive dining experience has been coined as “chop, chat, chill”. Whilst all dishes are centred on authentic Nigerian flavours, they have put a special twist on some, such as their Jollof Quinoa – a healthy spin on the traditional jollof rice – and Plantain Waffles – their signature gluten-free and vegan dessert.
At Melan, we are passionate about supporting Black-owned businesses, and we are throwing our support behind Chuku’s 30-day crowdfunder to raise “£30k in 30 days”. At time of writing, there was only £7,000 left to reach the fundraising target so now’s your chance to act and really make a difference. In return for pledging support, backers will receive rewards such as an invitation to their opening celebration evening, having a Nigerian-inspired cocktail named after them and an unlimited Nigerian tapas discount card.
In the current economic climate, being an entrepreneur is hard, when even the Jamie Oliver super brand can collapse, it’s important to get it right. Emeka said: “For the last two years, we’ve been pounding pavements – even in the snow – searching for the perfect site. Happily, we’ve now found the place we want to call home and are planning to open our doors this autumn.”
But they need our help. “For our community and for our mission, we want to be successful. The £30,000 we’re asking for will help ensure this is the case. So, help us to hit our target and raise £30k in 30 days and join us on our journey to rewrite the narrative around African culture.”
Chuku’s crowdfunder closes on Saturday 1 June 2019.
Visit and donate: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/chukus
Find out more about Chuku’s on their website: www.chukuslondon.co.uk