When ‘Yemisi Awosan was in faculty, she was nearly at all times spending her free time cooking up West African meals within the dorm kitchen with pals. “Persons are at all times interested in what tradition I’m from. While you say ‘Africa,’ the place in Africa?,” Awosan explains. “Lots of people haven’t traveled there so for me, I made that connection [that] if I share my meals, it in flip transports folks to know what my tradition is about.”
Meals was one thing she held onto when in search of reference to others. After graduating, Awosan labored in trend shopping for for 15 years. All through that journey, whether or not she was shifting to new cities or assembly new acquaintances, she was opening up her dwelling to share a meal. “I spotted I spent a number of my time both cooking for pals or assembly folks via meals,” Awosan says. It dawned on her that her meals may type a enterprise—particularly as a result of her faculty pals who remained in contact at all times begged her to ship a few of her dishes to them throughout state traces.
In 2014, Awosan started her profession as a private chef and caterer, abandoning her company path in trend. Though her purchasers cherished her meals, additionally they questioned if there was a option to proceed having fun with her delicacies with out having to have her over day by day. That is when the concept for Egunsi Foods, a mere seed that lived behind Awosan’s thoughts, started to sprout.
The primary pre packaged soup product Awosan made launched in July of 2017 at a Complete Meals in Harlem, and since then, Awosan has come out with quite a lot of soups and pepper sauces that may be shipped immediately to at least one’s door.
“For me, my product is an expertise on West African taste. I needed to have a look at the meals of that individual area,” Awosan says. “There may be a number of commonality however after all the way in which we put together is completely different. I’m Nigerian, I’m Yoruba, and I used to be additionally raised within the Northern a part of Nigeria. So I type of cook dinner from that perspective.”
Egunsi is called after egusi, a protein-packed seed frequent in Nigerian cooking and the middle of a few of Awosan’s heritage. “Regardless that I used to be born and raised within the northern a part of Nigeria, my dad and mom are Ijesha,” Awosan explains. Ijesha persons are a subethnic group of the Yoruba folks and, based on Awosan, are well-known for his or her dish of egusi and pounded yam. “For me, that’s my favourite dish. As a result of my dad and mom are Ijesha and I’m Ijesha, I simply love egusi and the flexibility of it.”
Now, on the helm of her personal model, Awosan desires to have a good time the variety of West Africa—the areas, the dialects, the components, and the tradition—via meals. “I need to characterize the tradition in a manner that makes different folks need to strive it,” she says. “My major mission is to essentially specific the tradition of my folks and of what I grew up with via the meals that I’m presenting to the world.”
And with that mission, Awosan desires folks to cease being intimidated by recipes they’re unfamiliar with. “All of us use the identical components. Everybody makes use of tomatoes, everyone seems to be acquainted with kale and potatoes,” she says. “I’m making an attempt to assist folks perceive that the components that you simply’re utilizing are usually not unusual. Meals is enjoyable!”
Her Cape Verdean kale soup recipe will get again to her cooking roots from over a decade in the past within the dorm room kitchen amongst pals. “My pals [are] a giant a part of what I’m doing now. We shared meals, we shared completely different tales about our tradition.” This Cape Verdean soup comes by the use of Awosan’s pal, Yolanda (fondly referred to as Yoyo). “On the time, I didn’t even know Cape Verde was on the continent of Africa,” Awosan says, laughing. “However the truth that I’m doing West African meals as my firm, and it’s a nation within the area of West Africa, [means a lot]. It’s only a [dish] that brings a number of reminiscences of school for me.”