Want to get a dose of African food and culture without leaving London and want to be rewarded for making it happen (imagine a Nigerian-inspired cocktail named after you)? Then support our campaign to open London's first Nigerian tapas restaurant.
We're Emeka and Ifeyinwa, a London-born brother-sister duo on a mission to celebrate the beauty of Nigeria culture and rewrite the narrative around Africa in the UK. Proud of our Nigerian heritage, we wanted to share the richness of the cuisine and culture we knew. And so, we started Chuku’s – the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant, bringing a taste of Lagos – Nigeria’s cultural capital - to London. With our award-winning immersive cultural dining experience, known as the chop-chat-chill, we have been popping up across London for the last three years.
Following the success of our pop-ups, thousands of delighted guests and critical acclaim (as seen in Time Out, Forbes and the London Evening Standard) we are now planning to open our first permanent site. And for this next chapter of the journey, our goal is to raise £30k in 30 days. So, find the reward you want (like that cocktail named after you), pledge your support and then tell your friends.
WHY A NIGERIAN TAPAS RESTAURANT?
It was lunchtime – the moment we’d been waiting for. And a moment, that today we had extra reason to look forward to as we were going to enjoy leftovers from our Mum's party that weekend. Our school friends peered into our lunchboxes, asking what the orange rice was? It was jollof rice – we tried to explain, not quite knowing how to describe something that was so common to us. A conversation we found ourselves having again and again over the next 20 years.
Born and bred in multicultural London, we had a yearning to see our motherland positively represented in the UK, so we could share it with friends. When we reached our early twenties, we decided it was time to stop wishing and do something about it. Our mission – to rewrite the narrative around Africa by celebrating the beauty of African culture and sharing it with the UK. But with Africa being so big and diverse, we knew we wouldn’t be able to do justice to all 54 countries.
So we decided to focus on the country we knew best – Nigeria. And start with one of the things we love most – food. Because what better way to explore a culture than through food.
"I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable." - Anthony Bourdain
If you want to explore Nigerian food with us, then let's make our permanent restaurant home a reality. Whether it's an invitation to our opening celebrations or a place on a Nigerian tapas masterclass - pick the reward you want, make your pledge and spread the word.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE CONCEPT
So, we know what you’re thinking – why tapas? Well, we wanted to give people the opportunity to discover as much of Nigeria as possible in one meal. Offering guests several sharing plates of Nigerian flavours meant we could do just that.
But we didn’t stop there. Our ambition is for the restaurant to be about more than just food. Dining at Chuku’s is a cultural immersive experience described as the chop-chat-chill.
Chop is Nigerian pidgin for eat, demonstrating that Nigerian food is at the heart of what we do. Our menu explores authentic flavours from across Nigeria, marrying them with inspirations from our upbringing in London and our travels.
Chuku's Jollof Quinoa
Our critically acclaimed food is a mix of traditional Nigerian dishes, like Moi Moi, and those with a special twist, such as our Jollof Quinoa – a healthy spin on the traditional jollof rice – and Plantain Waffles – our signature gluten-free and vegan dessert. Yes, you read correctly, Plantain Waffles. And because everyone who tries them, falls in love with them, we're offering free dessert for a year as one of our rewards.
Chuku's Plantain Waffles
Chat is for Nigeria’s social dining culture which we wholeheartedly embrace. Socialising is centred around food in Nigeria and we believe there’s no better way to catch up with friends than over a good meal. This is why our tapas dishes are made for sharing and we encourage loud chatter and bubbly conversation. For us the idea of socialising goes beyond talking to the people you came with. Nigerian culture values warmth and openness – the building blocks of hospitality and we’re building a community of chop-chat-chillers in our restaurant who share the same values.
Chill is for our relaxed atmosphere - the much-needed antidote to busy London life. At Chuku’s we serve up sharing plates of Nigerian dishes against a backdrop of Nigerian rhythmic afrobeats, contemporary art and street photography, giving guests a taste of Lagos in the heart of London.
Not yet had a chance to experience Chuku’s but want to see the chop-chat-chill in action? Then this video is for you:
THE RESPONSE SO FAR
Chuku’s has already contributed to the rising prominence of West African cuisine in the UK. We have been recommended by Time Out and featured in over 20 media outlets including London Evening Standard and Vice's food media outlet Munchies. This year alone we have been recognised as one of the top 20 Most Exciting Entrepreneurs in 2019 by the Great British Entrepreneur Awards who also shortlisted us as one of the 15 Most Exciting Food and Drink Entrepreneurs in the UK in 2018. Whilst in 2017 we were finalists in the Black British Business Awards. But more importantly than press and awards, we’ve left thousands of guests with their hearts and bellies full.
For Chuku's is...
“Open-minded cuisine that combines art and food and draws it together with love.” — Secret Eats London, food blogger
And because we want to keep spreading the Chuku's love, we're giving away unlimited Chuku's discount cards as one of our rewards!
SOUNDS LIKE GREAT STUFF ALREADY, SO WHY DO YOU NEED MY HELP?
To build a permanent Chuku’s home. For the last two years, we’ve been pounding pavements - even in the snow - searching for the perfect site. Happily, we’ve now found the place we want to call home and are planning to open our doors this autumn.
However we’re undertaking a big project. To turn this site into the warm, welcoming home of Chuku’s involves spending on renovations, furnishings, planning permissions and legal costs – all of which are known to mount up. Moreover, as a new restaurant our first year will be critical and we need to ensure we can survive it.
Restaurants are a notoriously difficult business and restaurant closures in 2018 were up by a third, leading the industry to explore why even London restaurants are failing. And with business rates continuing to rise and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, new restaurants need to be more prepared than ever to weather a seemingly perfect storm. We have a tight budget to open the restaurant, so we’re raising additional funds to put us in a better position to deliver the chop-chat-chill experience for even more people.
For our community and for our mission, we want to be successful. The £30,000 we’re asking for will help ensure this is the case. So, help us to hit our target and raise £30k in 30 days and join us on our journey to rewrite the narrative around African culture.
AND WHO ARE THE SIBLING DUO?
Photo credit: Angus Bremmer
Emeka, 28, is the Nigerian tapas guy. For him, Nigerian cuisine is the cultural bridge between his two homes. To grow Chuku’s, he left a career as an award-winning Strategy Consultant at Accenture. He gained his hospitality experience at restaurants Honest Burger, Morito and the Savoy Hotel. Emeka, a self-trained chef, has run Chuku’s kitchen for the last 3 years, developing the menu praised by MP Diane Abbott as “the best Nigerian food had in any restaurant”. When not cooking it up in the kitchen, he’s channelling his unbridled energy and ambitions into another fitness challenge – like an Olympic-distance triathlon or long-distance swim.
Photo credit: Nathan Clarke Photography
Ifeyinwa, 27, is a creative spirit and Chuku’s is one of her creative outlets. For her, Nigerian food is the matriarch of the family which always welcomes her home. As one of Chuku’s founders, she has been listed as one of Forbes’ leading businesswomen in Europe and Elle’s star female entrepreneurs under 30. A University of Cambridge graduate, over the last 3 years she has worked at start-ups such as Yard Sale Pizza whilst building Chuku’s 9,000-strong brand community. When not knee-deep in an Excel spreadsheet she can be found in a dance studio or writing plays.
Chuku’s is our baby, but it takes a village to raise a child. On our journey so far we have been supported by a handful of business mentors; the Prince’s Trust; Virgin Start Up; the thousands of individuals that make up our chop-chat-chiller community and now, hopefully, you!
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
If you want to be able to say you were a part of the world's first Nigerian tapas restaurant and want to be able the experience chop-chat-chill whenever you want it, then choose your reward, make your pledge, then tell your friends and together let's raise £30k in 30 days!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.