3:13 pm - Saturday December 16, 2980

BREAKING NEWS: NIGERIA’S Born CHEF, TUNDE WEY is King of Cuisine in New Orleans…New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Boston Globe, Others celebrate his food work, Contemporize Nigerian food without a Change *Brings Nigerian Flavor To The St. Roch Market With his Lagos Restaurant *Earlier lived with his Aunt in Detroit, Relives his evergreen experience at Revolver Cuisine *Floats Greyhound bus culinary tour hosting pop-up dinners titled ‘Lagos’ in cities like Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City * Presently being filmed for a New York Times­­ documentary series about his cooking trajectory * “I want to contemporize Nigerian food without changing it. I want people to reconsider how they consider immigrants cooking food”-Tunde BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES

BREAKING NEWS:

NIGERIA’S Born CHEF, TUNDE WEY is King of Cuisine in New Orleans…New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Boston Globe, Others celebrate his food work, Contemporize Nigerian food without a Change
*Brings Nigerian Flavor To The St. Roch Market With his Lagos Restaurant
*Earlier lived with his Aunt in Detroit, Relives his evergreen experience at Revolver Cuisine
*Floats Greyhound bus culinary tour hosting pop-up dinners titled ‘Lagos’ in cities like Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City
* Presently being filmed for a New York Times­­ documentary series about his cooking trajectory
* “I want to contemporize Nigerian food without changing it. I want people to reconsider how they consider immigrants cooking food”-Tunde

BY GEORGE ELIJAH OTUMU/FOREIGN BUREAU CHIEF, UNITED STATES

HE IS A NIGERIAN born in Lagos state, the economic nerve center of Africa’s most populous black nation. His name is TUNDE WEY, very famous in New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington DC, other major states in United States for his expertise in profound food delicacies based on his rich food repertoire from West Africa. Presently, this Nigerian is regarded King of Cuisine in New Orleans for his gifted hands.

Tunde has created notable food concepts in Detroit and New Orleans as well as a traveling dinner and dialogue dinner series exploring Blackness in America. His food work has been written about in the New York Times, Washington Post and NPR among other media outlets. His creative writing has been published in the Oxford American, Boston Globe among others.

His cuisine is breath-taking delicacies which are reflected in his ‘Lagos Restuarant’ that converges various celebrities in New Orleans, where his well prepared spicy meals are enjoyed by lots of African-Americans. Without doubt, Tunde’s meal takes you inside ‘Lagos with love’. He reportedly said: “People are no longer enjoying food. They enjoy the idea of food.”

Regarding his childhood in Lagos, Nigeria, food, he contends, was described with simplicity. His words: “When you take ebà [cassava flour, hot water and palm oil], scoop up some egusi [a savoury stew made from the ground seeds of melons from Nigeria] with ebà and put it in your mouth, it’s one flavour. Everything has come together to form this one thing. You can’t distinguish one thing from the other when it’s done well. And I think maybe that’s my problem with these words and these abstractions. I certainly understand it” — “it” being the intellectualization of food, which Tunde chalks up to the multifaceted nature of modern gastronomy, “but I condone it less than most people do,” he admits.

Tunde never attend cuisine school, but this self-taught chef would like to push for a more holistic, conscious approach to dining. ‘Lagos Restuarant’, Tunde’s contemporary Nigerian eatery at posh food hall St Roch Market in New Orleans, offers unfussy, uncomplicated West African fare in lively, hearty, sloppy, spicy, greasy, interesting and “f***ing delicious” spoonfuls.

This Nigerian is a great writer whose website reads: “Nigeria. Independent since 1960. Making dope food since forever.” In brevity, that’s what this refreshingly casual young chef is all about—love of country, family, and cooking. He’s the real independent, making no apologies for starting out just a few years ago, for being self-trained, for not caring about foodie fads or celebrity restauranteurs.

He arrived America at the age of 16 to study science, Tunde went in and out of college and worked in a variety of trades, including a stint at Wendy’s and as a West African dance teacher. He later moved to Detroit where his aunt lives, and in 2013 teamed up with his former roommate Peter Dalinowski to open a successful concept restaurant called Revolver—which works with a rotating cast of chefs.

Tunde reportedly said: “I became interested in nurturing the concept of cooking for other people. My first dinner was for about 100 people, and I think I called my mom or aunt just 30 minutes before service for a quick refresher. These matriarchs are really the ones who taught him how to cook back in his hometown of Lagos. The food he makes is Nigerian, traditional savory dishes he watched his family whip up as a young boy, like smoked crayfish, jollof rice, black beans with coconut pudding, and peppered goat head. I want to contemporize Nigerian food without changing it. I want people to reconsider how they consider immigrants cooking food.”

In essence, he wants to make classic food from his country in a way that isn’t watered-down or mixed into a fancy hybrid concept. It’s not about some pan–West African food movement. It’s simpler than that. At its core, it’s a home-cooked meal.

For the records, not too long ago after blindly emailing chefs across the country asking if he could cook in their kitchens, Tunde began his culinary tour hosting pop-up dinners titled Lagos in cities including Chicago, Buffalo, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City, then not yet a nationalized American citizen, traveled by Greyhound bus, as flying and getting through TSA smoothly wasn’t really an option.

Recalling, Tunde states: “My wife called it a vanity tour, I called it a sanity tour. The journey also led me to New Orleans, and after a stint at St. Roch Market.”
He’s also being filmed for a New York Times­­–produced documentary series about his cooking trajectory.

Certainly, he is certainly made for the camera. He’s cheeky and sarcastic, often stirring his stews and blending his spices while wearing aviator glasses, a bowler hat, and vintage tee, a look reminiscent of the attitude-laden, hipster chefs like Danny Bowien and David Chang.

On his beef with some sorts of food, Tunde exclaimed: “My beef with the food scene in general is that it’s just kind of weird. All the trendy restaurants in all these cities look the same—same plate work, same napkins, same white marble counters. We need more diversity across the board.”

Something different is definitely what Tunde brings to the table, and it’s worth paying attention to. He adds: “I am probably the worst Nigerian cook I know, but the best any American might meet. If you don’t believe me, just take a bite.”

 

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