In the two short years of this blog’s existence, we’ve had the opportunity to meet all sorts of amazing people in Lagos’ culinary scene. Chef Imoteda is right at the top of the list.
Culinary school graduates tend to be very stiff with their food. Everything feels so premeditated and calculated. There’s just something about Imoteda’s work that makes her stands out. A little edge to her approach to food, you might say. There’s also personality to her cooking and a distinct lack of pretension, both of which are rare in these parts.
We got the chance to send some questions her way for the blog
For the folks unfamiliar, what/who is Heels In The Kitchen?
Heels in the Kitchen is a food service company headed by Chef Imoteda (daz me plix). We offer a range of food services from private chef services for intimate events up to 60 people, recipe development and food styling for brands and more recently quick and easy recipe videos that are easy to recreate by viewers in their home.
And yes, we often cook in heels. Someone didn’t think that brand through tbh. The blisters are so real.
You do a lot of private chef work in Lagos, right? What your favorite story?
You people trying to ensure I never get work again abi?
One time, I had a guest, at a dinner I served, book me for a dinner cause she loved the food so much. She pretty much booked me in front of her hosts. I’m like, "that’s cool!".
So we’re emailing back and forth about the menu, she wants the same menu but doesn’t want to pay the same cost. So, I come up with a similar but less expensive menu, right? All through this, the client keeps telling me “I want the radishes", so make sure the radishes are on the menu. I think you like radishes like that? Okay, cool beans. Here are some radishes on your salad.
I get there on the day, serve the first two courses and I’m plating up the dessert when the client calls me out to the dining room and demands to know where her radishes are.
In front of her guests!
So I say, “I put the shaved radishes on your salad cause that’s the only place that makes sense. Didn’t you notice?”.
She goes, “No! THE RADISHES! I ASKED FOR RADISHES!”
At this point, I’m just lost AF. So I’m standing there looking like -____-. Her husband clearly slightly embarrassed goes “Dear, the radish was on the salad now. Maybe you didn’t get on your plate.” Then she goes “No now. Remember the radishes she served at Mrs. N’s house. The one with the red and the green sauce on the black plate.”
Turns out the entire time we were emailing about radishes, the darling lady was actually referring to crab cakes!!!
Her husband clocked this and had to explain to his guests who are at this point feeling mad uncomfortable, that his darling wife knows not the difference between crab cakes and radishes. I just jejely slunk back into the kitchen and laughed silently into my crème brûlée
LMAO, That's wild.
Anyway, you’re starting your food tour this month, what’s the whole idea behind it?
The idea behind the Nigerian Fusion Food Tour is to export the tastes and flavors of Nigerian cuisine to a wider audience. We have such a wealth of fresh and vibrant ingredients here as well as an insane amount of different cultures all of whom have their own meals. So, it’s ridiculous that outside Nigeria most people don’t know what Nigerian food is.
Apart from Jollof Rice, eh?
It’s also a chance for us to show Nigerians that we don’t have to continue to cook our foods in the same way as our grandmothers and their mothers did. It’s time to break the mold and get creative with our food. Pyam is not the worst of it. There’s the moi-moi spread, the egusi tortellini and my personal fave, the plantain puree. There is so much we can do and the food tour is just showing the very tip of the iceberg.
Speaking of Nigerian fusion, a couple months ago you launched a project Eko Street Eats with a pop up at Stranger. You haven't had another event since that first one. When is it back?
Man, that was almost a year ago. Eko Street Eats is a collaboration between myself and Chef Ramon (@ohwallaby). We created it honestly as a bit of stress relief. When food is your life, you need a space where food can be fun and removed from the stress of client demands. We had to take a little break due to some health related issues but we’ll be back in 2017 for sure.
Ok, a question from left field. If you could have a kitchen superpower i.e. like one thing you wish you could super fast and very well. What do you wish it to be?
Kitchen super power? Sigh, this is gonna be so pedestrian but it would probably be the ability to whisk super fast. I really hate whisking, I’ll hand the whisk to someone else as often as I can. Lol
Fill in the blanks
My favorite restaurant in Lagos… The Place (Jollof Rice and Asun. Judge me. I’ll fight you)
The most famous person I’ve cooked for… I did a dinner with ALL the heavy hitters of Lagos high society once, talk about pressure. The people that matter the most to me though are, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika & Mrs. Fela Durotoye, both at another dinner. That was dope to me. Also, Pastor Paul Adefarasin is someone I cook for quite often as well as his non-Nigerian gospel guests.
The best thing I ever cooked was... Everything I cook. Honestly, I can’t answer this cause my skills grow daily so things get better literally from day to day
My favorite spice is... Black pepper
My go-to grocery shop in Lagos is... Spar in Lekki. Never the VI one. Trust me.