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Siblings give tapas a Nigerian twist with pop-up restaurant

TAPAS REIMAGINED: Chuku's puts a Nigerian twist on the Spanish style (Image: Chuku's/Instagram)

TWO SIBLINGS have opened a pop-up restaurant which blends Nigerian cuisine with Spanish tapas. This innovative pairing of traditional Nigerian foods and a Spanish style is the brainchild of entrepreneurs Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick.

Ifeyinwa, a classics graduate at Cambridge University and her brother, Emeka, a University of Nottingham economics graduate and lived in Spain, put their brains together to create a pop-up restaurant that celebrated aspects of their culture along with Spanish cuisine. The idea, in part, came from their multicultural experiences – Ifeyinwa having spent time in France and Emeka in Spain.

Speaking to Guardian Labs about how he and his sister came up with the idea, Emeka said: “We started talking a bit about the idea and what culturally we were trying to bring. We wanted people to get to explore a whole raft of different flavours and try all of these different cuisines, [and] at the same time foster a really great relationship. Tapas culture and food marries so well with our own Nigerian experience of hospitality and food being at the centre of social dining experiences.”

Though inexperienced in the culinary profession, the siblings used their research skills and cultural awareness to their advantage. “It was two of us that started this without a background in the industry,” Ifeyinwa told Guardian Labs.

“We [didn’t] have a PR team, we didn’t have a marketing team. We were, like: how do people get to [a high] level?”

Since the launch of their Chuku’s diner, they now have 6,000 followers across both their Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“What we’re trying to do through Chuku’s is train people’s eyes toward Nigeria and Africa, to see the beauty which is 100% there,” said Emeka.

“Social media allows us to stay up to date without having to book a flight every couple of months to be there on the ground. It’s our way of being able to keep in touch,” Ifeyinwa added.

Their menu boasts a selection of vegan dishes including jollof quinoa and moi moi, fish favourites such as honey suya prawns, and plantain waffles. Famous fans of Chuku’s include former athlete Christine Ohuruogu and shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott.

Even with their high profile fans, the siblings remain humble, suggesting there is always room for improvement.

“We’ve been reading books, going to talks. We both have our own power hour in the morning so we can set ourselves up for the day. And there’s learning in the industry itself, so we’ve done a lot of work experience,” Emeka said.

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