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He started his journey as a chef from the bottom of the ladder as a Trainee with Transcorp Hilton Hotel after his secondary education in Ilorin, Kwara state. Today, Chef de Partie. Raji Ayodele Wisdom is number four in the Transcorp Hilton hotel’s kitchen hierarchy after further Kitchen management courses with The Hague Hilton University.
In this interview with JIMOH BABATUNDE, the father of four opens up on his profession saying training to be a professional chef was like working in a war zone. Excerpts:
On why he chose to become a professional cook.
It’s primarily because I love food and I have passion for cooking. Also, cooking runs in our family as my father was an accomplished baker.
On his training and what it was that like.
I did my basic kitchen training at Transcorp Hilton Abuja. I have also been to a few places to acquire knowledge and I have worked with different Executive Chefs and other chefs from different countries like China, Spain, Italy and most recently, Korea.
Training to become a professional Chef is like working in a war zone- you either survive or you quit. On a personal note though, it has been fun being a professional Chef.
On the challenges.
Sour and Sweet but thank God I scaled through because of the interest and passion I have for cooking.
If giving another chance, would you do it again.
I am now a trainer but learning is a continuous process in life, you have to keep updating your knowledge continuously in order to meet the changing expectations and preferences of the guests.
On best cooking tip for a novice.
SPAGHETTI A LA RAJI is boiled spaghetti with chopped cherry tomatoes (baby tomato), basil leaves ( curry leaves), soya oil, salt, diced red pepper, diced onion and clean dry Cray fish and garlic.
On advice he would offer a young person interested in getting into the culinary industry.
Believe in yourself, don’t be discouraged or distracted at the beginning and know that a light awaits you at the end of the tunnel.
On favorite gadget to work with.
Kitchen Knife and Phone.
On funniest kitchen incident.
A young chef was asked to clean cooked eggs and to chop it after cleaning. He got it cleaned and ate it all. When asked by the senior chef why he ate the eggs, he replied ‘you asked me to chop it after cleaning and I have done that sir’. The senior chef asked again ‘where are the chopped eggs?’ ‘In my stomach sir’ the young chef replied.
On favorite food to cook with.
Sauces, seafood and steak in a new way.
On importance of food culture to Nigerians today and if they are still handing down traditional recipes to the younger generations.
Every Nigerian loves and holds traditional food in high esteem both at home and abroad. Each native food carries its traditional identities anywhere it’s being eaten. For example, if you attend any party and you see Amala, you will know that the host is a Yoruba. So it is gratifying to note that our eating culture is still intact and the interested younger generation will continue to live with it, grow with it and get the necessary training as well.
On what he eats at home.
I eat any of my wife’s specials.