@artistandscientist / 08170144279
She is core scientist with PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, the Curator of Artist & Scientist – a Restaurant, Catering and a Food Company; who never saw herself playing in the space of food business but for her love of good food invented Artist and Scientist which is a dining space founded for the love of good, decadent, delicious and authentic food since 2014 in Lagos.
Please note- the Audio quality in certain areas were poor but it definitely got better.
Podcast Key Note
Can you introduce yourself – tell us your background and how long you’ve been in this industry
My name is Ope Toritse. I’ve been running the food business for about 5 yrs. I’m actually not a cook anyways because I started out as a scientist. I have a MSc. in organic chemistry and PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. I worked as a scientist abroad and when I moved to Nigeria, I worked at a fertilizer company.
a – so we have Artist and Scientist which is the main brand and what we do includes small gatherings, corporate events.
b – We have the restaurant; The Dining Room which is a dining space for diners.
c – The third brand is called Street Pot which was built for my love for street food.
How did it all start?
Well, I didn’t think I would make it a career, no! That wasn’t my plan. It was meant to be a side thing I would do while working then pop-in say; once every few days to check things out. So, it was about 6/7 years ago when I came back to Nigeria and I got a job in Benin. I was travelling from Mondays to Wednesdays, come back Wednesday or Thursday and spend my weekend in Lagos.
The job was great and I loved it and then the company ran into a financial trouble. One day a friend of mine needed someone to cater for a birthday party. So, I was given 50k; then I made potatoes chips, triple-fried chips, etc., and it was good. Everybody loved it; I just did my own kind of coking like special BBQ sauce, crispy chicken people loved the outcome. Then I said okay, this is interesting. Then again I had a friend who had a fashion fair and I thought okay let me do something small for my brand by booking for a stand in her event and that was how it all started back in 2014.
How did you get your ideas in creating unique dishes?
I think it just come from watching people’s interaction with food and how they enjoy food. I watch a lot of food videos on food channels, You-tub etc
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had running the catering arm of your businesses?
My biggest challenge was not making enough money then. I was losing money by giving my clients extra on meals. But at some point, I had to realize that I was not making any money. So I had to literally increase my prices and you know the most interesting thing, my customers were fine; they didn’t go anywhere. Also, I started being very specific with the orders.
What’s your staff structure; do you hire chefs?
Well, I have a chef that went to a culinary school and for the most part, I hire people that I can train –people that are willing to learn and develop their selves and skills
Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?
That’s a very good question. So, I am not really thinking in that direction. But I’m very open to what comes in the future and I think right now, I love it; I’m enjoying the way things are. But in 5yrs, I would love to actually have moved on to something much bigger. I’m thinking food manufacturing.
Key Takeaway Points:
- Ask for feedback, follow up with as many customers as you can
- Be flexible with thoughts and energy
- Hire people that you can train
- Hire employees that are willing to learn and develop their selves
- Do your portioning and pricing very well to avoid inventory loss
- Be Specific and intentional with your menu
- You can have multiple brands within a company
- Be creative with your menu and particular about your clients
- Be specific with the market you want to serve
- Watch people’s interaction with your food
- Use the best possible ingredients
- Push yourself and continuously improve on your skills
- Dont be attached to your business
- when you dance/flow with the recipes you make great food