I met Michael Ade Elégbèdé when he was in Sweden to cook during Smaka på Stockholm. He has been growing up in the kitchen with his mum and grandmother who always been cooking lots of food and running restaurants. He moved to America as a teenager where he during his studies worked extra at his mothers restaurant. He was supposed to become a doctor. But during his studies he understood that he wanted to work with the food, so he quit university to start at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone. And then he started to work at Eleven Madison Park Restaurant in New York. He started to experiment with Nigerian food and served the food where he worked. He noticed that people appreciated the Nigerian kitchen so he wanted to learn more about it. He talked to René Redzepi, who told him that if he should cook Nigerian food he should be in Nigeria and learn even more about it. So he moved back to Nigeria and his mission is to get the Nigerian people to appreciate the Nigerian kitchen. I asked Michael some questions;
How was it to move back to Nigeria?
– It was a really hard transition, and you can never take anything for granted there. For example sometimes there is a power cut just when you need it.
The best thing with moving back to Nigeria?
– One example is when I get hold of some special products that I normally can’t get hold of, then I get way happier then I used to when I took everything for granted.
Where do you get all your inspiration from?
– From the villages in Nigeria when I’m out travelling there. I get inspired when I see them using for example cassava, beans and all other local produce. We are pretty new at refining our dining. And many people are trying to eat like they do in the western world. I want people to appreciate the Nigerian food.
Your favourite food country?
– Nigeria and Japan.
What is your favourite things to cook?
– Fish and seafood.
Do you use cookbooks?
– I like to read them and get inspired by them.but I rather come up with my own recipes and learn from that.
What is the funniest thing with your profession?
– To inspire other people both in Nigeria but also when I travel to other countries and can speak about the Nigerian kitchen and inspire people there. I like to make the Nigerian kitchen a bit more modern. It is just so much fun!
Interview and photo by Malin Nordblom
The interview was first published in Swedish at https://gourmet.se/nytt/michael-ade-elegbede/
Text and photo Malin Nordblom
Fab Foodie Swede
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