…insights from entrepreneurs in the food industry in Nigeria

Episode 47 – Chef Tiyan Alile Founder of Culinary Academy and Tarragon Restaurant: Lagos

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@culinaryacademyng @tarragonlagos www.culinaryacademy.com.ng

Chef Tiyan Alile is the chef instructor and creative director of culinary academy. She is chef, adviser, teacher, golfer, experimentalist, renaissance woman. She is the founder of culinary academy and Tarragon Lagos. ( As seen on her Instagram handle)


Podcast Key Note

Can you introduce yourself – tell us your background and how long you’ve been in this industry

I am Tiyan Alile the founder of culinary academy which is a catering training school,  we train chefs, train people to learn how to do recreational cooking. We also have a Fine Dining Restaurant called Tarragon and we also have a consulting arm to help people set up hotels and restaurants.

I did start up in the legal field and I practiced law for 10 years before going to culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine in Ireland and I came back here to start a culinary academy. I have in one way or the other trained, mentored and done master classes for up to 4000 people. We have graduated 8 sets of students from the culinary academy.

I read back in your secondary school days, you started a cupcake business . So, why did you end up going to  law school?

(Tiyan laughs)… well, you know how it is; when trying to gain admission into the university, your parents actually guide you in certain direction. Well, I actually wanted to study theater art but ended up studying law. I have always had passion for legal practice but I was chasing 2 habits – law and food business.  With law, I was happier financially but in terms of social impact and capacity building, the culinary school. I have touched a lot of lives through my academy and this is fulfilling as well.

What’s your take on people who didn’t go to culinary school calling themselves chefs ?

Apparently, by the definition of the word Chef, you don’t have to go to culinary school to call yourself a chef. You can actually do tutelage under a culinary chef and could become a professional chef yourself. I still advice people to go to an institution of learning and be confirmed on the theoretical and practical aspects of the culinary art.

I really like people with experience but culinary school has things it can chip in – help you understand terminologies, understand food science principles, and make for the understanding of why you are doing things being instructed by the chef.

What’s your Culinary Academy enrollment process?

Well it depends on the aspect you want to focus on. we have various culinary courses. Primarily we do diploma programmes accredited by ministry of education. So to opt for that, you need to have 5 credits in GCE, you will be required to write an essay, fill forms and give us your sponsors details and contact. The programme lasts for one and half years (18 months). Then we have shorter programmes of 6 months, 3 months, 1 month down to 1 week and one day classes.

What’s the average salary expectation from  graduates from the Culinary Academy ?

It’s all depending on where they are being hired. Someone might be hired by establishment that understands and appreciates chefs and can earn up to 250K a month.

What advice would you give a Young Chef?

  • If you are young chef in age, you have so much opportunities and the flexibility of trying out different aspects of the industry
  • You probably really have to figure out what exactly you really want to do
  • Try to buckle down and get footed in an establishment rather than being restless – here and there.
  • Continue to learn – it doesn’t end because you have the opportunity of time.
  • Now, if you are young in the profession but old in age, you obviously don’t have the advantage of time but then, it depends on the specific thing you want to do after graduating from the academy.
  • If young in the profession but old in age, you could look for jobs that will pay you well enough. In as much as entrepreneurship looks glamorous, it’s extremely stressful.

What advice would you give Restaurant Owners?

  • I would advise restaurant owners to get a consultant to hold their hands and guide them through. It may cost you more at the beginning because you are paying consulting fees but it will pay you back a lot in the long run.
  • Prepare your mind. People think money will start rushing in once you open a restaurant.
  • Do a lot of research to know a lot about what you want to do
  • Don’t underestimate the stress involved in running a restaurant business and you must understand that it is an expensive business.
  • If you fail the first time, don’t give up; keep up and try it better all over again.

What advice do you have for women who want to go into food business?

  • You have to understand that this industry has long working hour and late closing hours.
  • Think deeply how to balance and manage – family, parents, and your spouse.
  • You can structure the way you want your career to go in a way that supports your lifestyle.- Don’t compromise on that
  • If you are working for someone, you can negotiate with your employer
  • Delegate and be sure to build a good team that can take off some of the stress from you
  • What is your lifestyle like? Make your career work with your lifestyle.

What’s the next phase for you?

Well, I’m working on a second book and it will come out very soon. I am going to continue working on all the projects we are working on and to continue to be in my space where I’m doing what I’m doing – empower more people, build more capacity in the industry and stay as relevant as much as I possibly can.

 


Key takeaway points:
  • You can be a Chef without going to Culinary School
  • Partnership is good if you can structure the agreement in such a way that your partner is coming on board to execute specific aspect(s)- consult a lawyer
  • This industry has long working hours and late closing hours.
  • Work life balance is key Manage – family, parents, and your spouse Do not compromise on  the important aspects of your lifestyle
  • Always negotiate
  • Delegate and build a strong self sustaining team
  • Make your career work with your lifestyle.
  • Consultants might cost you more upfront but save you more in a long run- invest in one.
  • Money does not start rushing in when you open a restaurant.
  • Create a unique theme and  atmosphere when starting your restaurant
  • This industry is stressful and expensive
  • If you fail the first time, don’t give up; keep up and try it better all over again.
  • Young Chefs stay grounded, explore but do not be restless
  • Entrepreneurship looks glamorous, it’s extremely stressful. Find ways to balance it out
  • Culinary school– help you understand terminologies, understand food science principles and processes, and make for the understanding of why you are doing things being instructed by the chef.

Emeka Editor
Emeka is passionate about the Evolving Business Environment and the challenges bedevilling it. He is ardent and cognizant with the Restaurant Industry having worked in various outfits as a manager and consultant. He is presently working for BusinessFeverNg as the B.D.M and content editor.
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Emeka Editor
Emeka is passionate about the Evolving Business Environment and the challenges bedevilling it. He is ardent and cognizant with the Restaurant Industry having worked in various outfits as a manager and consultant. He is presently working for BusinessFeverNg as the B.D.M and content editor.
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About Author

Emeka is passionate about the Evolving Business Environment and the challenges bedevilling it. He is ardent and cognizant with the Restaurant Industry having worked in various outfits as a manager and consultant. He is presently working for BusinessFeverNg as the B.D.M and content editor.

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