Founder ‘Hit Kitchen’ / ‘Heels In The kitchen’
@hitkitchenng / 0818-868-9274
Imoteda is the creator of The Nigerian Fusion Food Tour, book lover, Chef and Mother.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background –
My name is Adetomi Aladekomo; popularly called Imoteda.
I’m Yoruba from family of six. I have a degree in Women Studies and Social Media Development in Canada. I worked as a makeup artist for 8 years.
I am the founder and Head Chef at Heels in the Kitchen, founded in 2014. We offer a range of food services: private chef services for intimate events, recipe development and food styling for brands.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking and was doing it a lot for family and friends. When I had my daughter at 20, I became very particular about how I fed her; my interest and passion grew from then and I began to watch a lot of cooking shows.
I moved back home in 2012 and in 2014, I attended the Le Cordon Bleu for 3 months.
Starting days for business including funding?
I had to build a kitchen that doubles also a studio; the renovations and equipment were capital intensive. I used the kitchen for my YouTube channel where I produce videos and shows.
For the chef services, I had to buy a lot of equipment because as a chef, you are pretty running a mobile kitchen. Even if clients’ sites have fully functional equipment, it is always best to have your personal equipment as back up.
What inspires you?
I love to tell a stories with my show where I share recipes. I have been able to build a network of chefs around the world and we constantly share ideas and help each other grow professionally. Here in Nigeria, I have group of chefs whom I am very close to and when we have jobs that get overwhelming we often help each other out. We recently ran a special programme to raise money for the Otedola bridge victims and it was very successful; we raised 4.4 million naira. So, impacting lives and seeing them succeed inspires me to do more.
When did your aha moment come that you thought ‘I can do this’
It was in 2017 when I decided to cut out a lot of the things I was doing under the brand to focus more on my comfort zone. I am focused in Italian and American cooking but I try to embed the Nigeria recipe into foreign cuisines.
Can you describe your typical work day?
I don’t have a typical work day per say. My daily schedule varies across a number of activities: working on recipes, planning for a private or catering event, or shooting an episode in the kitchen. We equally offer individual catering services, where we deliver cooked foods from any of the special menus we run for that week.
What steps have you taken to make sure your brand remains relevant and competitive in market place?
I ensure good food and customer satisfaction at all times. My sister who works with me engages and interfaces with guests and clients, while I remain fully dedicated to churning out the dishes. I am classically French trained and have a passion for southern American cuisines, so I usually fuse the two styles using Nigeria ingredients in my cooking, and this gives the food a very unique taste.
How would you say your business has evolved over the years?
Well, in the beginning of ‘Heels in the kitchen’ as the name reads, I was wearing heels it was a mix of flashy, glam and girly but over time, I realized that our job is physically tasking and we work long hours in a tense environment; so, no more heels in the kitchen. We have evolved and also streamlined our menu offering. There is a smaller crew of staff now, we are more focused and we are better with costing too. In the past, recipe development became a sinkhole for us; we were running in all directions and profit equaled expenses, which wasn’t good for us.
The food tours where I travel around a few cities in the world and offer Nigerian fusion cuisines have also been added to our services.
Where do you see the brand in 5 yrs- 10 yrs?
I plan to open a culinary school, where I can offer culinary training and impact others with the knowledge I am opportune to have.
I plan to also develop the Production arm of my brand, develop food shows for TV and YouTube; I envision the brand being ‘the Nigerian food network’.
Can you give us the most challenging experiences you have had?
There was this one occasion I was invited to cook in-house (private catering), and on getting there, I realized that the kitchen was not even functional. I had to cook a dinner for 10 on a camp burner. That was however, a learning experience for me as I now carry all my equipment as back up.
What is the worst entrepreneurial moment you ever had and how did you recover?
Wow! In 2016, I had a catering job for 400 people and virtually everything went wrong; my lamb ribs supply didn’t follow customer specifications, the venue had a power outage, the staff I brought on was not experienced enough, and the meals were complicated.
We were only able to serve a fraction of the guest; many of them left because we didn’t start serving till 11pm. I ended up making a payment plan to refund the client. I was embarrassed and felt like quitting because it was a disastrous and disheartening situation.
Why do you think most food entrepreneurs fail in their businesses?
- Most food entrepreneurs fail as a result of failure to adapt to the environment; Nigerians won’t eat French food, but you can adapt the technique to foods they like; in addition,
- Lack of attention to the business,
- Inconsistency, inadequate planning,
- Lack of experience and standards of excellence are some others, among many factors responsible for business failures.
How do you treat recipes and intellectual properties?
Definitely, I’m open with my recipe. I mean, I practically teach people food recipes on my channel on Youtube. Even when you give someone a recipe word for word, the food they make may still not come out as yours. Ones menu must change and evolve over time anyway.
What advice would you give your young self?
Be more organized and don’t be afraid to try.
Book and resource recommend:
Chef’s Table on Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/ng/title/80007945
- Engages customers to get feedback
- Chef’s menu must change and evolve
- Ensure good food and customer satisfaction at all times
- Most food entrepreneurs fail as a result of failure to adapt to the environment
- Inconsistency, inadequate planning, Lack of experience and standards of excellence also lead to failure.