Uyai Cuisine: A Culinary Jewel
Fashion. Actress. Chef
From fashion, to film production and now Chef, she is not only talented but multifaceted. Meet Chef Uyai, a woman with a lot to share as she reminisce from her childhood memories of her grandmother whom fondly refers to as Mma Nko and mother Imoh
A step into her newest project in highbrow Uyo, Uyai cuisine you are greeted by a tribute on the wall which reads dedicated to her mother and grandmother which reads:
“To the two women who nurtured me, groomed me, put me on their lap and wove for me a pattern of delectable meals, homemade food and appetising cuisine. To the two beloved women who formed my culinary skills and moulded my interest in good food”.
Owing to her heritage and deep passion for Akwa- Cross delicious delicacies, Uyai has managed to carry on recipes passed on from generation to generation from before her grandmother’s time, and has even gone ahead to incorporate some delicacies far beyond her native Uruan origins of Akwa Ibom State.
In this edition of fulcrum magazine our editor Nsikak Akpan, in a chat with whom he has come to considers as one of the most gifted chefs and creative designers in South- south Nigeria, gained some insights into Uyai Cuisine.
Uyai started by sharing some brief information on how her amazing dream all came alive. “I come from a background of people who love good food. Personally, I started as a fashion designer, the first to be recognised, who lived and worked in Akwa ibom state, then I ventured into film production, and now food. I went to a culinary school in 2019, so I am a trained professional chef. I tell stories with clothes, film, and food. Some of the recipes on our menu are my great grandmother’s recipe, some my grandmother’s, some my mother’s, and some mine”.
Her restaurant brand also has a distinctive business model with a rich history which has helped in displaying her unique style, something she has also passed on to her children.
We are a family focused on food and storytelling, my particular attention is with our native food because if we have the best cuisine in Nigeria, who are we not to tell our story? We are telling our story by ourselves through food.
She believes as a people there is a need to maintain the ibibio cultural identity regardless of the rapid global change in the food industry. She had this to say.
“If you go to some five-star, three-star hotels,or a five-star, two-star restaurant in Nigeria and sometimes outside Nigeria, you would see that the majority of the food on the menu are native to us here in Akwa ibom, but often referred to as Calabar food, which more often than not, is one and the same.
you will not fail to see Afia Efre (called white soup) but I refuse to call it white soup because the Igbo people have what they call Ofensala, they never call it white soup, its Ofensala, so mine is not white soup, it is Afia Efre, you will not fail to see Afang Soup and that thing that they called Edikangikong that’s not it, so that is why we are here to tell our story right, to cook with the right recipe, that is where my great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother come in, handing over from generation to generation. Am thanking God that two of my children have picked an interest in cooking food professionally, so who are we not to tell our story and showcase Akwa Ibom? Good enough in the food industry everybody is talking about afro-fusion. At Uyai, we make Calabar cuisine as well as Chinese cuisine.
Chinese cuisine is one of the most celebrated cuisines in the world right now, while Calabar cuisine is the most celebrated in Nigeria, now in Africa.
visit Uyai cuisine at Plot 43, A line, Ewet Housing Estate Uyo.