From being a professional Footballer to a full-time Chef, Ayodeji Oladipo‘s story is such an inspiring one just like many others who eventually find passion in a profession they never thought of.
Chef Dee as he’s fondly called is an ex-footballer who had to quit active footballing career after a “horrific injury” he sustained in 2009. He delved into food making and has never turned back ever since.
In the interview, personal Chef to Nigerian Manchester United Superstar, Odion Ighalo, took us through his recovery process after the horrific injury, he talked about his style of cooking and also the importance of the male gender to inculcate the habit of doing more cooking.
SHARE WITH US WHAT GROWING UP WAS LIKE FOR YOU AND YOUR BACKGROUND?.
I grew up into a family of four as the second child blessed to have a strong discipline mother who pushed me to the kitchen at a very early age of 6 apart from seeing my mum to be an amazing hardworking woman, I used to assumed my mum was a caterer cause of her beautiful passion for cooking while growing up.
My grandfather was a farmer and it gave me a lot of privilege to experience different kind of foods at a very early age of my life. Stuff like , bushmeat , snake , tortoise , duck meat , and more. I became so adventurous about food and was always willing to try the next meal.
DID YOU EVER KNOW YOU WERE GOING TO BE SO INTO FOOD LIKE YOU ARE TODAY?
From studying English to playing pro football and other craft I attempted I didn’t know i was going to be a pro chef , maybe because it was hardly recognized in the part of the world until recently.
Yes, I would say I always had definite passion for cooking and all I thought I was going to do was cook to the beauty of my family making special meals for my wife and kids and exploring the best of foods all over the world.
WHAT’S YOUR BACKSTORY TO THE VERY FIRST KITCHEN EXPERIENCE?
It was sometime in 1992 , mom was actually pregnant then and she came home tired one day frustrated that she still had to cook for us that night and she angrily sent me and my brother to the kitchen my first time experience. she, made me use a mortal and pestle to grind pepper while she guide my brother through making Amala a very funny and unforgettable experience that night as i went to touch a sensitive part of my body with a pepper hand. The pain and memory of that night will never be forgotten and it has been the beginning of such a beautiful cooking history.
YOU ARE AN EX-FOOTBALLER. MCZ, REMEMBERS SHARING YOUR STORY ON THE “HORRIFIC INJURY” WHICH YOU CLAIM WAS SHARED NOT FOR “SYMPATHY BUT TO CELEBRATE SUCCESS“. WHAT BROUGHT ABOUT THE INJURY?
It was back in June 29, 2009 a day after my birthday while playing football. I was pursuing a career in football back then as a goalkeeper and was in my final year in school just an unfortunate lucky day that has shaped my life and given me strength because if I was never broken , I won’t have understood much of my strength.
THE RECOVERY AND TRANSITIONING PROCESS HOW WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU?
The recovery process is the biggest miracle I ever experienced it took me 12 months to be fully back on my feet. From laying in bed for about a month and half on one spot. That moment made me contemplate suicide actually I stepped up my rehabilitation process with crutches and the use of walking stick till I started freely walking again. I will just say that GOD restored my feet.
CAN YOU SAY YOU FULLY RECOVERED PSYCHOLOGICALLY BECAUSE, WE ALL KNOW HOW HEARTRENDING SUCH EXPERIENCE CAN BE?
I am a fitness coach as much as been a Pro Chef and I still play football just not professionally anymore. I am very much sport pro active. I have recovered beyond my weakness.
WAS THE FOOD INDUSTRY AND YOUR CLOSE ASSOCIATES IN SUPPORT OF YOUR DECISION TO BE A CHEF?
Most of my life decisions have been mainly by myself. I had a long time revelation to feed nations and I thought I was going to be rich and go ahead to contribute to charity works and support orphanages. So I started visiting orphanages and making donations until late 2016 when the vision came back to me that all i needed to do was to cook and feed nations.
So my path is divine , right under the light of God. I really had no close buddy in the food industry getting started , I walked in as a lone soldier and I made myself open to everyone I became a family and got accepted into the industry when I picked up an award nomination as the chef of the year in 2018 which was the second year of my career.
DID YOU AT SOME POINT GET FORMAL TRAINING?
Training, yes. Apart from my deep rooted passion for personal learning and overtime experience — I trained closely under a chef back in South Africa sometime in 2014/2015 just in the process of cooking adventure but I trained again formally in lagos with Freesia Foodies in 2017 when I finally made my decision to take the cooking job full-time and professionally.
Oladipo Ayodeji (Founder, Chef Dee Kitchen / Artistry.)
WHICH OF THE YEARS SINCE YOU TOOK COOKING PROFESSIONALLY DO YOU CONSIDER REMARKABLE AND WHY?
Every year has been wonderful for me growing through each process and learning more. I have had beautiful opportunity to develop my artistry and reach out to a lot of people, working with amazing celebrities and training over 60 students so far.
Still a personal chef to Nigerian Manchester United Superstar, Odion Ighalo but, June 29 2018 remains a special day for me 9years after I broke my leg June 29, 2009 my name was announced on the big stage of Pyne Awards as a chef of the year nominee still my best moment. I realized God wanted me to be here and I became very happy with myself.
WHAT WILL YOU CALL YOUR STYLE OF COOKING?
Afro fusion and a blend of creative artistry. They call me, The food sorcerer and I’m still the one and only Culinary gangster.
YOU STARTED CREATING FOOD VIDEOS NOT TOO LONG AGO, FROM TAKING PICTURES TO FOOD VLOGGING. HOW HAS THE PROCESS BEEN LIKE?
I am just getting started and I have plans to put out a lot of creative content out there to unite friends and family through cooking but majorly, I plan to use my style of cooking to encourage more men to cook for their homes.
SPEAKING OF AWARDS AND NOMINATION YOU GOT NOMINATED BY PYNE AWARDS IN 2018 WHAT IMPACT DID THIS HAVE ON YOUR CAREER AS AT THE TIME?
I actually called it an induction … I felt welcomed and accepted into the industry and it has been a big part of my motivation to work hard everyday and continue to find the best of me in the cookery world.
GLOBALLY, MALE CHEFS HAVE OVER TIME BEING INSPIRATION TO THE PUBLIC WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON MALE ‘GENDER’ COOKING?
Considering the level of hardwork, stress and risk involved in cooking I am of the opinion that male genders should be encouraged to do more cooking both professionally and also part of home bonding
OBVIOUSLY WE KNOW YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT FOOD BUT, WHAT OTHER THING ARE YOU SO MUCH PASSIONATE ABOUT?
I have strong passion for Fitness, I am a poet and a writer, event planner and content creator. Still very much exploring cinematography and entertainment.
I remain a chef I can be anything more but, I will always be a Chef.
FOR SOMEONE LIKE YOU WHO IS AN EX-FOOTBALLER AND CHEF WHAT WILL YOUR ADVISE BE TO ANYONE LOOKING UP OR ASPIRING?
You are always more than you think you only need to check yourself deeply.
If I didn’t look inward when I broke my leg, I could have been lost forever.
CAREER WISE WHAT’S NEXT FOR CHEF DEE?
Growth! There’s still a long way to go and what’s most important for me right now is everyday growth.
I have a lot of people to inspire and I hope to be one of the captains of the industry soon. Food has given me life, I will give it my whole life.
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