So the third feature is from my cousin, Yimika. Eden's Instagram page is literally dessert porn, all the pastries and cakes look so perfect and delicious. Yimika is a true professional and master at her craft, an inspiration at such a young age! I really hope you enjoy reading more about what she does!
1. Who are you and what makes you cool?
Hi my name is Yimika Awolowo and I am a pastry chef. I own and run Eden patisserie in Lagos which has been active for the last 6 months. My degree is in business management and after achieving this I literally ran to culinary school and here I am now. Everything I do, everything I am is in relation to food.
2. Where/why/how/when did start?
I knew I had an interest in food at the age of 17 when I used to make birthday cakes for my friends in school and I used to skip lunch and stay in my boarding house to try out new recipes, I wasn't caught until my friends used to stay back too to eat whatever it was I was making. I knew especially coming from an African household I would need a degree first so I chose business management and during the summers I would work in any kitchen that would have me most noticeably Michel Roux's Le Gavroche which cemented for me that the kitchen was where I belonged.
3. Where do you hope to get?
The dream for Eden is huge. I see an Eden for all ages. An Eden for all our future kids where they can hang out after school, an Eden for the young professional to get away have a cocktail and a pastry accompaniment. I see an Eden specific to large scale events specialised to clients tastes and I see a farm where I can use fresh produce that I grow to create a true farm to table getaway where clients can visit the land and stay to get away from the busyness of the city. I want to bring Michelin to Lagos, to finally put our culture and our food on the map. We Nigerians have always celebrated foods from other cultures and we have tried everything, so I just want us to be given a chance because our food is fantastic.
4. What challenges have you faced/are you facing and how did you overcome them/hope to overcome them?
The challenges are endless and they sometimes discourage me but I have to keep my eye on the vision which is to create something that will outlive me. Produce is a big problem here it's hard to get the best at reasonable prices especially with the horrible economic crisis we are being plagued with. I overcome them by still using quality ingredients. I believe that my clients taste the difference and so they don't mind paying the extra cash. The other problem is staffing. I currently only have one employee so I am able to control most things and nothing goes out of my kitchen that I have not had a hand in. With expanding I know this will not always be possible and it freaks out the OCD control freak within.
5. Do you think any of your challenges relate to being a women? If so how do you think we can prevent other women from facing similar obstacles?
Being a female chef already is like finding a unicorn. Luckily for me my head pastry chef at culinary school was the boss, all the male chefs (with huge egos) had to report to her and she did her job with no arrogance and pure passion for her work so it was something to emulate. In Lagos it is very difficult because there are not so many of us floating about and I find that most times people feel they can cheat me because I am a woman and because I am also young so I've had to toughen up quite a bit. This industry is not one for the faint-hearted. Long hours, aching joints and pure fatigue is not a joke. The only way we can combat it is if we continue to work hard. Women have always been at the forefront of food since the beginning of time so we just have to keep doing what we do. There isn't a lot of recognition but if thats you want this is the wrong profession for you anyway.
I'm so grateful to Yimika for taking time out of the kitchen to share with us. As lucky as she was to start her career with an inspiring woman, so are we lucky to have her as an inspiration! This has definitely taught me that strength and confidence does go a long way, and I hope you guys got lots from it also. Thanks for reading and I hope you're excited for what's up next!