Chioma Nwaorie is the founder and owner of My Nigerian Cuisine, a successful, full-service restaurant specializing in high-quality Nigerian meals of all kinds in Mount View, Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.
One of the most remarkable and noteworthy stories about Chioma’s is that in addition to being a world-class restauranteur, she is a graduate of Biochemistry from Madonna University and former international real estate executive, infusing a more professional and scientific approach to her business than the closest competition.
In this bear it all interview with Idowu Bankole, Chioma explains her enthusiasm in the food business and why she would never give up her dream of being the reference point for good Nigerian cuisine in and outside Nigeria.
WHAT IS MY NIGERIAN CUISINE?
My Nigerian Cuisine is a restaurant and a food processing company focused on local Nigerian meals.
First, figure out what you passionate about. Because for a business to succeed you need to love what you do.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU VENTURED INTO THE FOOD BUSINESS?
I was working for a Réal estate company based in Dubai. Who specializes in the development of luxury hôtel units.
WHEN DID YOU JOIN THE COMPANY?
I joined 8 years ago in Abuja Nigeria. I worked with them till 2016 and was later réemployéd in Dubai in 2018.
WHAT WAS YOUR JOB ROLE?
I had the same job role both in Nigeria and Dubai. I was a promotional venue Executive. I market these luxury units to prospect.
SO, WHY DID YOU LEAVE THE COMPANY?
In 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic the company had to let a lot of their staff go and unfortunately I was one of them.
HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
I really loved working for the company and I loved my job. I was devasted and lost at first. My job gave me a sense of purpose and social status. The job paid me very well in Dubai. I felt lost I had no idea what my next move will be or what the future holds.
ASIDE FROM LOSING YOUR JOB, WHAT EXTRA MOTIVATION BIRTHED MY NIGERIAN CUISINE?
Passion and Money. There is money in the food business this I can tell you. I love to cook now I just make money from doing something I love
First of all, you have to figure out what you are passionate about, and not just going into any business simply because others are doing it. Passion is what drives a business, regardless of the challenges you might face. In all, I am sure my experience will be able to motivate anybody who might be interested and passionate about going into the food business, to start as you don’t need much for it.
SO WHAT TYPE OF FOOD DO YOU MAKE?
We make purely Nigerian meals. We specialize strictly in local Nigerian food. My Nigerian cuisine is a place where you can have different meals from different ethnic groups in Nigeria.
HOW MANY RECOMMENDATIONS AND COMPLAINTS HAVE YOU GOT ON YOUR JOB?
I get a lot of complaints I can’t really count. But definitely on a daily basis. It’s part of the job but it also makes the brand stronger as I take every complaint in good faith and ensure the customers are satisfied
HOW DO U SEE COMPLAINTS FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS?
I see them as an opportunity to collect information about a customer needs, opinion and most of all upset customers are looking for clarity, not trouble
CAN A JOBLESS NIGERIAN AFFORD UR FOOD?
My food is quite affordable an average meal starts from 800 naira
WHAT OTHER SERVICES DO YOU RENDER?
We are also into catering services
Be it, weddings, birthday parties, conferences and much more.
We also sell food in packs to offices and take the burden off homes and supply them freshly cooked meals week/monthly.
We also have an outreach where we reach out to the less privileged by feeding them weekly.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS OUTREACH?
We help to feed the less privileged. We have people who help sponsor this outreach. With as little as N30,000 you can feed up to 50 people.
WHAT WERE YOUR MAJOR CHALLENGES WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED?
Money was one of my major challenges but again cooking from home you don’t need much to start.
My second biggest challenge is debts. People will buy food and won’t pay it was frustrating I still face this challenge. Also, it’s hard to say no to someone when they are hungry.
HOW DO YOU PLAN TO TACKLE THESE CHALLENGES?
Going forward I plan to make its payment before service.
YOU STUDIED BIOCHEMISTRY AND YOU WORKED FOR A REAL ESTATE COMPANY NOW you OWN A RESTAURANT, WHY IS THAT SO?
I initially wanted to work in a production lab. But after I left school the first and only job I could secure was the real estate job.
After I lost the job I decided to go into entrepreneurship as there are no jobs. Instead of sitting around and waiting for the government. Losing my job was one of the best things that happened to me as my life actually started after I lost it.
Entrepreneurship is not an easy journey but it is definitely better when you doing something you love and make money from it. I love cooking.
YOU SEEM TO REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO FIGURE OUT ALL THIS AFTER YOU LOST YOUR JOB?
It took a while like after I lost my job I was really confused, all I wanted to do immediately was sell perfumes.
After the confusion started to fade, I remembered my side hustle and I started planning, at this time I had no money as a result of the bad financial decisions I made.
Then I started cooking from home. I would call my friends and beg them to patronize me. I would send free food to offices as a way of advertising my food. My friends will visit me at home and I will serve them food and charge them for it. Yeah, I was that broke. They understood.
HOW DO YOU INTEND TO INFLUENCE THE LIVES OF AN ORDINARY NIGERIAN GIRL WHO WOULD HAVE HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES AS YOU WITH YOUR CURRENT ENDEAVOUR?
In the long, I would like to train young girls on how to venture into business. As to help curb the early mistakes I made when I first started.
WHAT IS YOUR LONG TERM PLANS FOR MY NIGERIAN CUISINE
We are setting up a park in Gwarimpa, the project is ongoing. My Nigerian Cuisine will also have a food production part. Where local spices, foods, the processed and canned meal will be sold locally and exported to other countries.
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND?
I studied Biochemistry at Madonna University.
ARE YOU MARRIED?
No, I am not.
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