Three Generations of Women.
One Brand: Kewa’s Kitchen.
Feyikewa Animashaun is the formidable Head Chef behind Kewa’s Kitchen. She launched Kewa’s Kitchen barely two years ago and the reach and stellar reputation the brand already enjoys is beyond remarkable. Her lunch delivery service takes the hassle of having to meal prep away, as she offers delicious balanced meals at affordable prices. At owambe after parties, pre-COVID-19, her canapés and noodles in a box were a real crowd pleaser and party starter. In the wake of social distancing and Zoom parties, she was quick to adapt and launched a Celebratory Tray delivery service. Thus, we were intrigued to learn about her journey: the experiences, lessons and challenges that have shaped and continue to shape her.
Her story is characterised by passion, overcoming self doubt, drive and laser focus. The most striking and most beautiful thing to us, however, is the influence and presence of three generations of women in one brand. Feyikewa shares with us how her mother's adventurous palate combined with her grandmother's ability to add depth and flavour to her cooking without using artificial seasonings or flavours have set the tone and identity of the Kewa's Kitchen brand today.
"Food connects me to my heritage by keeping me connected to my mother and to her mother"
On what life was like growing up and the experiences that shaped her
Food has always played centre stage in my life and in my home as a child. My mother served up swoon worthy meals for my sister and I. She taught us everything we know about food today. I never realised how blessed we were to have a mother who put her heart and love into every meal she made for us till I started primary school in England. The kids in my class would fight to have play dates at mine just to have my mum’s meals and I was always getting asked to trade my packed lunch during lunch time.
My mum also ensured that my sister and I were exposed to a variety of cuisines. She always joked that “none of my children can be picky eaters” and she went out of her way to make sure we explored all types of food. I still have the best memories of walking down Portobello market on Saturday mornings and queuing up to buy the seafood paella and empanadas. We also had a Sunday ritual of always going to Poons after church for some of the best dim sum in London tucked away in Bayswater. I was always encouraged to try something new every week and this tradition triggered my love for Asian cuisine. I had tried Greek, Italian, Chinese and Thai cuisine to name a few by the age of seven and it has shaped my culinary journey today. All the experiences my mum gave me have influenced the way in which I have built the brand I have today.
On her journey as a chef: the lessons she has learnt along the way & what she is most proud of
Stories about what an amazing cook my maternal grandma was and lessons about food from my mum really fueled my desire to become a Chef. As soon as I was called to the Nigerian Bar I started being intentional about making this dream a reality. I practised Law for a year before beginning my Cuisine Diploma course at Cordon Bleu, London.
After completing my first level I struggled with calling myself a Chef because I had not completed all the levels. However, a friend pointed out that I am deserving of the title because of the time I had spent building Kewa’s Kitchen and training our staff. I think one of the major obstacles I had to personally overcome was getting over imposter syndrome at the beginning. I was constantly waiting for someone to call me out and tell me I had no business trying to occupy the space I was in. I was able to overcome that thankfully and move forward with all the goals I set for myself.
Being a Chef has taught me a lot about myself. It has dispelled most of the myths and ‘lies’ I believed about myself. I have grown so much as an adult and as a woman since the inception of this business. I am proud of the confidence boost I have experienced inside and outside the kitchen. I am proud of my work ethic, drive and laser focus when it comes to Kewa’s Kitchen. I am proud of the brand that we have built and the way the brand has been received. Nothing brings me joy more than a customer telling us they are craving a dish that they have tried from our menu; to me that is one of the highest compliments.
On her maternal grandmother’s influence on her cooking
My mum once told me that when she was growing up her mum only used salt to season her food and it was always delicious. The concept is so simple and it is the principle behind why I do not season the food I cook with seasoning cubes that contain MSG. I strongly believe that it’s possible to intensify and develop the flavour of food with natural ingredients alone. I strive to incorporate this approach to cooking in every dish that comes out of Kewa’s Kitchen. There is so much joy in the process of actually making your own stocks and marinades and not having to rely on MSG and stock cubes.
On what food means to her
Food connects me to my heritage by keeping me connected to my mother and to her mother. The love of food and cooking is a gift my grandmother passed to my mother who then passed that onto me. Food is more than just sustenance to me. It triggers memories that take me back to various stages in my life and each day I try to recreate and share those memories. One of the many things I love about food is the lessons on the importance of patience, being organised and paying attention to detail it teaches me constantly.
Food also allows me to inquire about the origins of different dishes. It drives my need to understand what makes us different and what makes us the same. I love that the same set of ingredients can be used differently all over the world to create indigenous dishes.
Food means a lot to me but if I were to summarise I would say this. Food is tradition, food is hope, food is health, food is love, food is opportunity, and food is home. Food is conversation, a metaphor to impart wisdom through.