Abosede Sadiq, bringing the twist to culinary service with ‘Rent A Chef’

Abosede Oluwatosin Sadiq known as Chef Bee has been a professional chef since 2016. She started off managing a food truck in UNILAG. She has managed two restaurants in Ikoyi and Lekki respectively, Ethnique restaurant in Ikoyi and Cafe De Elyon in Lekki.

She has also done catering jobs for different companies namely IBM, Mac cosmetics, Precise Lighting amongst others. Before she started Rent A Chef in February 2021, she was a host on a cookery show called Chefs Corner on Pop Central TV on DSTV. The show focused on cooking from leftover food. She also does restaurant consultancy work, helps to set up new restaurants and fast food outlets.

Abosede was inspired by her mother, who was also a caterer, who enjoyed cooking so much and was very good at it. She recalls growing up, where there was usually a feast in their house. Families and friends always trooped to their house to eat, and there was always so much food at home.

At Rent A Chef, where Abosede is CEO, they provide private chefs, cooks, kitchen assistants to clients for any duration they want. She is very passionate about excellence.

Read Also: Chef Sia is reimagining Nigerian cuisine with her yearly Roundtable

Sadiq says she is on a journey to change the food landscape by raising the bar in excellent culinary service.

She is married and hails from Shagamu, Ogun state in Nigeria.

Formative years and effect till date

I grew up with my grandparents in a polygamous setting, with a lot of extended family members around. I had to mature early as I had a lot of examples both good and bad that I had to face. I was influenced in such a way that I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want my life to be from an early age.

Love for cooking

Funny enough, I never in a million years envisioned myself as a chef. In my early years, I had to learn how to cook as my mother relocated when I was 13 years old. I found myself doing the cooking and other kitchen work with my brother and other relatives.

After a lot of false starts, I eventually made this turkey sauce that is still being praised till today. Even with all the praises, I lost that zeal and passion for cooking at the time. I always thought I was going to end as a 9 – 5 career woman after university; I studied International Relations. Finding that one passion was very difficult for me and came late in life as I was scared to step out of my comfort zone. I never liked going into the kitchen but when I did occasionally, I was lauded by family and friends for being good at it. I cooked at the time but it was only to fulfil my responsibility as being the only girl in the house. After a lot of roaming, career starts and soul searching, I finally decided to give cooking a chance.

My first experience with the food industry was after secondary school, when I was an intern at UBA Bank canteen located at Coconut Junction, Bode Thomas. I lost interest after a while, and when I finally decided to enter into the industry fully, I started cooking and selling from home. After doing this for a while, I entered into a partnership and began managing a food truck in front of Moremi Hall, UNILAG. I managed two trucks, one for food and the other for Ice Cream.

This led to me learning craftsmanship, art and patience needed in the food industry. I moved on after a year when I got an offer to manage a gourmet restaurant called ‘Ethnique’ where I oversaw all the chefs and while doing this, I honed my managerial and culinary skills. This made me able to develop menus and decipher what could elevate the taste and creativity of a dish.

After leaving the restaurant, I developed my own special menu that was used for catering jobs and got jobs with international brands such as MAC Cosmetics and IBM. I opened my own restaurant called Flips and Fries by Bee. Location problems and unforeseen situations cropped up and rather than feeling like a failure, I decided to close down the restaurant and move on. Moving on from my unsuccessful venture, I got a TV deal at Pop Central on DSTV. It was a show about teaching people how to revamp meals and give them that extra kick and spice from leftovers. Still sticking to my commitment deal with Pop Central, I got a good offer to manage Café de Elyon Travels at Lekki Phase 1.

Comparing when you started and now, what has changed? What are you grateful for?

Honestly, I sit back and ask myself this question every time. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started, and it was done because I wanted to give it a try. My ability to learn, absorb and make it work for me is what has gotten me this far. I’m grateful for the fact that I found my calling. I’m also grateful for being aligned with my purpose. Forever grateful to my creator for standing by me always. The food industry is home to me now and for a career move that was never in my plans or what I envisioned for myself, I’m more than happy to have eventually realised and achieved what I wanted, and to be doing what I love.

Birthing ‘Rent A Chef’ initiative

Personally, I needed more time for myself. I was tired and felt like I was being pulled in each and every direction at all times. With my TV commitments, managing restaurants and also learning on the go, I had no time for myself, personal relationships and growth. My mental health was taking a hit and I made a decision going into 2021 to reflect and enter this new phase of my life. The business idea began because I had the experience of working as a chef and also managing restaurants. My experience through the years made me a perfect middleman as I knew how to work with chefs, serving people, knew what people were missing, and as such, I became the perfect link in finding chefs for people, be it commercial or residential.

The fine dining atmosphere I felt could be closer to home which was missing in the food industry. I decided to embark on the Rent A Chef project, to bring the fine dining experience into the comfort of people’s homes.

Response so far?

The response so far has been really massive. From the first week, it has been explosive. People were in need of this service and the business was positioned perfectly and as such, requests and feedbacks flooded us.

What is the process of the ‘rent’?

We offer chefs on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. We also offer permanent chefs for residential or commercial use. You can have a daily chef who will cook for your date nights, dinners, parties and celebrations. To rent a chef for your daily event, the first step is going through our menu to pick the service you’re looking for, be it date night, dinner night, diet plan or an after party. Our menus are diverse and range from intercontinental to storage dishes. Then, after you have selected and made your choice, we will make an invoice for you and include the chef fee and transportation costs.

Do you synergise or do strictly as requested by your client?

We always do as instructed by our client. Some of our clients just require our service of an upgrade training for their existing chef.

Where do you see yourself and your business in 5 years?

When you think of renting a chef for anything you want to do, I want my company to be the standard bearer. I want my company to be an extremely customer focused company offering the best services. I see the company as a household name with international reach.

Share on the importance of healthy eating

A healthy meal helps our body survive and thrive in this stressful environment. Nutrition packed with vitamins and essential minerals promotes good health and well-being. Rent A chef NG has a variety of menus including the diet plan package for healthful eaters. Eating a balanced diet is important to us as a company and also as individuals.

Are most Nigerian meals carbohydrates?

This is very true. Being married to a flexitarian, I realised that most of our food options revolve around carbohydrates and proteins and as such there are not so many options or alternatives. We need to add more vegetables, fruits, proteins, whole grains into our diet. Eating healthy can be challenging as the cost of doing such is more expensive than eating the usual rotation of carbohydrates such as yam, rice, bread, garri and so on.

What advice do you have for Chefs struggling in their career?

My first advice will be to find their niche. Be self-aware and know which area you’re good at, be it residential or commercial work. Know exactly which cuisine you know best, it can be intercontinental, local, Indian, exotic, Caribbean or any other, but you have to find that area that fits and satisfies you. Food is a learning process and as such you always have to be open to learning. It is not all about working hard, you can also work smart as well.

Are there more females than males in your profession?

From my experience, it is a male dominated industry. I know a lot of talented women with exceptional cooking skills who are not in the chef business. I am encouraging more women to take the mantle.

You have more males in your team. Any reason for this?

It is just happenstance that I know more male chefs. Honestly, you see more male chefs than females. I have an all-female team of ‘alase’ (women who cook large quantities for large events) and a female assistant; the chef team just has more males. We are available for big occasions. We have an experienced team of alases who are very good at big events catering, be it wedding, birthdays or house warming.

Day in your line of business never to be forgotten and why

The day I went for interview to start a cooking show called Chefs Corner on Pop Central TV on DSTV. This was an opportunity I didn’t see coming and I was really nervous. I was anxious and didn’t really think I had the flair to appear on TV. The interview went very well, the concept of the show was very welcoming by the management of the station.

Day in your personal life that you can never forget and why

The day I can never forget is the day I got engaged to the man of my dreams.

The effect of inflation on your business

Inflation has caused us to modify the prices on our menus many times this year. It is quite exhausting explaining to clients why we had to increase our prices time after time.

What can the government do to ensure food availability and sustainability?

Insecurity needs to be tackled head on so farmers can access their farmlands and be safe from bandits. Motorable roads, crop storage, irrigation systems and other agro technologies are needed. The Nigerian government needs to do so much more in ensuring these critical facilities are available. Multiple taxing on food commodities needs an urgent look.

Culinary skills and experience vis-à-vis theory

As a self-taught chef, I believe that a culinary background is all about the experience. It is not all about the theory part but the application of what you have learnt. It depends on your positioning within the industry and how good you are. There’s a difference between a cook, a caterer and a chef. A chef can be differentiated with their creativity, zeal and passion. Cooking is an art and it is all about merging this art with science, infusing different cuisines, the art of plating and creation of special menus to fit any occasion or place. The cooking business comes with a lot of pressure and how well you know how to deal with this pressure and better yourself.

Balancing work and family

When I started Rent A Chef NG, I thought I would always have time for myself but this has proven to be wrong. I have a very supportive husband and as such, we’ve been able to work around our schedules and set out time for ourselves. Work wise, my challenge is dealing with the different personalities of the chefs who work under the company. Moral values and ethics differ and as such it is my responsibility to ensure that I give mentally and ethically wise chefs to clients.

“You are what you eat” shed more light on this

Poor food choices increases the chances of developing life threatening diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. When you eat right, you look right. Your skin glows and your body can fight infections and function optimally.

Final words

I would just like to let everybody know that it is never too late to chase your dreams. If you think that you have not achieved anything and feeling depressed, don’t feel down.

Find your passion, get closer to your maker, work smart, and ensure that you are always ready and willing to learn. Your comfort zone is the enemy so if you can defeat that, there’s nothing that will stop you.