By EBELE ORAKPO
A woman’s place, they say,is in the kitchen as cooking has been the traditional forte of women. That belief is fast becoming untenable as more and more men are today competing with women in that department and doing great. One of such men is Mr. Chuks Anselyn, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Lagos-based Celebrity Mobile Kitchen. In this chat with Vanguard, Chuks tells his story.
On completing his primary and secondary education, all in Lagos, Mr Chuks Anselyn proceeded to the National Open University of Nigeria to read Mass Communication and he is currently in his third year. He said he started cooking when he was only six years old and never imagined that cooking would be what he will end up doing; talk about one’s path being mapped out for him.
Finding myself in the cooking world:
Said Chuks; “I started cooking when I was six years old. I never knew cooking would ber what I will end up doing. Somehow, I found myself in the cooking world. I was jobless and one day, I met a lady and asked her if she could help me with a job and she asked me if I would like to work in a kitchen and I felt ‘wow, this was what I did at home while growing up.’ I picked up the job. I began to learn new things on the job. Today, I am not just working (an employee), I have my own kitchen and an employer of labour. Celebrity Mobile Kitchen was launched on December 15, 2012.”
What we do:
“At Celebrity Mobile Kitchen, we run both catering programmes and catering services. We run culinary education that would help people learn how to become chefs, it is a four- month programme. We run through small chops, continental dishes like Italian, French, Chinese etc. We run 20 per cent theory and 80 per cent practical. We do not teach them how to run our recipes, we teach them how to be able to recreate new recipes.
“Although I do most of the teaching, but I get others help out when I have other appointments. We are privileged to have one of the best chefs in Nigeria be part of us. He is Chef Lalu Surdiham, the Knorr Taste Quest’s Season 1 winner. He comes once in a while to teach. I want to use this medium to say a very big thank you to Chef Lalu. He’s been a friend and a teacher to me,” he enthused.
“As a matter of fact, two weeks ago, some of our students graduated. I am so happy because I have been able to produce after my kind. I really thank God for that.”
“Starting up was not easy for me. I started with N150,000 which I spent on kitchen utensils only. So far, we have spent approximately N2.6 million on utensils, rent, uniforms, photocopies, etc. Whatever money we make, we plough back into the school, trying to see how we can develop it and move on to the next phase.”
“As far as I know, we are the only culinary school in Oshodi/Festac/Isolo/Mafoluku/Ajao Estate axis. We are amongst the top three culinary schools in Nigeria. Although we are still young but people who have visited us confirmed that what we are doing is different.
“In our school, we provide all that the students would require so they don’t have to come with their cooking utensils. All they have to do is to get admitted and every other thing is provided by the school. We have students from within and outside Lagos, even from as far as Calabar and Zaria,” he stated.
“On the challenges faced, Chuks said; “It has been very challenging really.
Sometimes, some of the machines break down and need to be fixed. Also the generators, air conditioners etc. It’s a big challenge because all of these can only be maintained with money. I do not just sit down as the CEO, I still go out to talk to people, share handbills, do photocopies for my students, go around to help them get recipes even though it is not my responsibility. I just go the extra mile. I still go to work at night and in the morning I come back to the school to teach and I still go to for lectures.
My kind of job is the type that you see people scream at you. Working in an à la carte kitchen is not easy. It is one of the most difficult kitchens to work in, in the world. It’s not like buffet where the food is set and ready. À la carte is by order and the food is fresh. You work under a very hot condition, yet we still meet up and serve people well. It’s fun and hell being a chef but the fun outweighs the pain.”