Oyeronke Ladapo-Nwanegbo… Making A Difference With Ijebu ‘Ikokore’
Oyeronke Ladapo-Nwanegbo, is a data scientist/software engineer that emerged into being a food enthusiast with a passion for cooking and exploring new recipes. Oyeronke Ladapo-Nwanegbo,seats with Guardian Life for a chat on her journey into being a food enthusiast, carving a niche with Ijebu Ikokore and what food means to her.
What is it about food that you like and how did you find yourself catering to the bellies of individuals?
What I love about food is its creativity. Cooking and experimenting with food can be a creative and enjoyable process. And when you try out new recipes and techniques, these can be exciting and rewarding.
Food can be a source of comfort and can evoke feelings of warmth and coziness. I associate certain foods with happy memories, most especially, ‘Ikokore’.
I found myself catering to individuals because of my genuine passion for cooking and creating delicious meals. I started out cooking for family and friends, then selling. I then gradually expanded to having an online food store, Ikokore_queen on Instagram and some social media platforms, and by extension, catering for events. We are also the only ‘Ikokore’ food store on Jumia, currently.
When I started Ikokore_queen on Instagram, I would say I was the only one selling the food online then, because it was quite a unique niche.
Your first experience with Ikokore, what was it like and why do you like the meal?
Yes, ‘Ikokore’ is my all time favourite meal. My first time experience with ‘Ikokore’ was when I was 10 years of age and my mum had prepared the meal for the family. It tasted differently from the usual yam porridge I was used to and was so delicious. Ever since she made it, we always had it at least twice in a week. What I love about ‘Ikokore’ is the wateryam infused in pepper sauce while you can add as much protein as you want.
Tell us about the Ikokore Food Festival and the initiative behind it?
The festival we are hosting is the first of such to be held in Lagos, and it’s a paid event. It’s holding on May 7 at Psychiatric Hospital event field Yaba, from 10.00am to 6.00pm. And it’s an all day event. It’s a way I’m trying to create community engagement. I thought a great way to do this is to bring together lovers of ‘Ikokore’ from all around and celebrate this local food in Lagos. Just like it’s done in Ogun State by the Ijebu, the original owners.
The ‘Ikokore’ queen brand is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and while I was thinking of how to appreciate my esteemed customers, the idea to host a food festival came up.
How are you able to merge different food cultures, especially, Yoruba and Igbo meals, making them palatable?
I’m a Yoruba lady and married to an Igbo man. So, merging different food cultures is not a big deal to me. By combining different ingredients, spices and cooking techniques, and being open to new ideas and flavours, it’s possible to create delicious and unique dishes that blend the best of different food cultures.
Why do you think food is an important aspect of human society?
It is an important aspect of human society, because it sustains life, provides nourishment and contributes to social and cultural identity. Overall, food is not just about satisfying hunger, it plays a critical role in physical, mental and social well being, and it is an integral part of human society.