You may remember Michael Adé Elẹgbẹdé, a cooking enthusiast who spoke to Chicamod about his beginnings in the appreciation of African cuisine.
Elẹgbẹdé is now on a mission to rediscovering and telling the story of Nigeria’s food culture with his own personal touch; focusing on the unique flavors, ingredients, and cooking traditions of Nigeria. For all those cooking (and eating) enthusiasts, you can monitor this journey via his blog, which documents beautifully taken photos of local and traditional foods with a twist of modern.
Since his return to Nigeria earlier this month, which he documents in his blog, Michael has been visiting places to find inspiration – be it the streets or market place. Writing on the market place in Nigeria’s infamous Mile 12 – a 12 mile large market on the way to Ikorodu, Michael describes,
“Never have I seen such bountiful display of beautiful produce; baskets of freshly harvested tomatoes as far as my eye could see; hundreds of woven bags of red onions; yams as big as a year old child; several varieties of peppers, fruits, tubber, roots, legumes, grains, and spices. Soon enough, I began interacting with the very warm traders at the market, most whom were surprise I could still speak my native language (Yoruba). I felt rejuvenated, inspired, culturally shocked, but most of all, I felt home, I am home.”
A native of Nigeria, Michael started his journey in the kitchen at a very young age. Having his mother and grandmother run local restaurants that also served as cooking schools for young women, he naturally found himself responsible for several tasks in the kitchen.
At age 13, he arrived in America, where he spent his spare time fulfilling a cook’s role in his mother’s new Nigerian restaurant. After high school, he attended The University of Illinois at Chicago to study Biology and become a doctor as expected of him, but realized his passion resided in cooking.
Elẹgbẹdé began his culinary career at Alliance Bakery in Chicago where he learnt the intricacies of baking and pastries. Understanding education is the key to success, he moved out of Chicago and attended the Culinary Institute of America Greystone in California, where he attained a degree in Culinary arts. After graduating, he further refined his skills working at restaurants across the country, including the critically acclaimed Eleven Madison Park Restaurant in New York.