Yeide Kuti: Satisfying Taste Buds One Meal At A Time
Calm and calculated, Yeide Kuti is the founder of the Kuti’s Bistro in Lagos’ capital. A theatre artist turned chef, she prides herself as completely devoted to creative food preparation and presentation. The Guardian Life caught up with her to talk savoury dishes, and “Bukas.”
You studied theatre art, why did you decide to become a chef?
Cooking has always been my favourite thing. Growing up with my grandma, who owned a restaurant, I was raised to love cooking. My travelling experiences exposed me to different cuisines. Eventually, I decided to focus on food.
Every chef has a special recipe, what’s yours and how did it come about?
I don’t have one special recipe but I would say everything I make with Avocado is my special. This is because Avocado was my grandma’s favourite fruit, and I like it too because it’s full of “flavour healthy”, and it goes well with a lot of “meals. I love everything made with avocado. For instance, the Guacamole and I really make amazing ones
Is there a plan in place to put African dishes on the international map? If yes, how do you plan to do this?
Absolutely. I want to be able to introduce more African dishes to food lovers and enthusiasts. It is called food infusion and African food is beginning to go far, extending beyond borders. Food gastronomy is taking over.
Lagos is home to so many restaurants, what makes yours stand out from the rest?
KUTI’s Bistro is a place where we make provisions for all kinds of African and continental cuisines at an affordable price with an environment created for individuals and corporate organizations. The restaurant has a very relaxed contemporary atmosphere with an Afro-fusion touch and the food is epicurean. You would love it!
What is the first thing about being a chef people should know?
Being a chef requires passion and determination; to please your customers, to ensure they truly enjoy and savour the foods. It demands complete excellence. We deal directly with people’s stomachs and as such, we have to ensure that whatever we do is thoroughly done. You want people to enjoy their food, to be enticed by it and long for more. This is only achieved by making excellence your priority as a chef.
It is no news that Lagos, where you are based, has a lot of restaurants and “bukas.” As a chef, what issues in the market do you want to fix or you think needs to be fixed?
I wouldn’t speak on “Bukas” because that isn’t my space. But when it comes to my niche market, fine dining in the city, my maxim has always been that chefs should cook for people the same they would cook for themselves and their loved ones.
This means that the same way you would like the process of preparing your food to be delicately handled, it should be applied to making food for others. That said, I’d love to see chefs make food to please the customers in the way that they love to be pleased, that way they feel more at home while trying out new foods or having their favourite.
At KUTI’s Bistro, I desire to make people feel present and completely immersed in the experience of the meal of their choice. Whether it’s a new recipe or their favourite meal; enjoying food can actually be exciting and heartwarming!
What is the best word to describe you?
Weirdest thing that should not be tasted by anyone?
“Wasabi” is the weirdest thing. It has a very strong flavour. It is usually served with Sushi. People familiar with Japanese food will know this. I don’t know how anyone can stand it. I love sushi itself but I cannot stand the “Wasabi”.
How do you combine running a restaurant and family?
My family makes things so easy. I am really blessed. My partner and daughter support me in every way so it makes combining both smooth. They are my inspiration.