At Sheen Magazine, there is only one thing we love more than beauty and that is food! Word spread that there was a Nigerian food influencer on YouTube that I had to familiarize myself with and I’m so glad I did! Ivonne Ajayi is a woman who fell in love with cooking at an early age. She remembers whippin’ in the kitchen at just 11-years-old and since then, she hasn’t been able to stop. I had the opportunity to get to know Ivonne behind the pots and pans and beyond my YouTube app on my phone to get to know just who this cook was and how she got her start!
Tell us about yourself. When did your love for cooking begin?
My name is Ivonne, I am 29-years-old, and I live in the UK. I’m originally from London. My love for cooking really began at an early age. My earliest memory of cooking was my mom getting me in the kitchen as early as 11-years-old. I helped her cook and by 12-years-old, I could cook food for the family-like basic Nigerian meals, stew, but it wasn’t any hard labor or anything (laughs).
How did you work up the courage to begin a channel to share your recipes?
It actually took quite a while for me to work up the courage but when I did in 2015, I set up my channel! I wanted to create an outlet for myself. At that time, there was a lot going on with work and family. I just wanted something separate from that, it was a way to find myself and get creative. I was able to have my own space but I didn’t expect it to take off the way that it did.
Tell us about your all-time favorite thing to cook and/or eat.
I would say my favorite thing to cook is jollof rice. I have a video of it on my channel. It is a Nigerian rice dish. It takes little effort, you get great results from it, and it’s great for entertaining.
Meat pie is something I really enjoy as well. The step for meat pie is a bit repetitive but I find it very therapeutic (laughs).
To eat, I feel like I am a bit picky (laughs). I like a good roast chicken dinner and I love Ayamase, it is a Nigerian dish that is meat-based sauce that is peppery and saucy.
What do you get out of cooking for yourself and others?
Believe it or not, I find it fun. It allows me to create something special while being the boss in the kitchen. You can experiment and I do find it therapeutic. Apart from myself, I love seeing the satisfaction of others when they taste my food. When I see others enjoying my food, it uplifts my spirits.
Who is the woman behind the pots and pans? What else do you enjoy doing?
(Laughs) That’s funny because I don’t show myself that much on my channel. Well, I’ve been married now for over seven years. I work in the pharmaceutical industry. I love spending time with my family and friends. I love entertaining others at my home. I love drawing and sketching fashion designs and painting.
How would you describe the differences and similarities between Nigerian cuisine to American?
Well first off, both are delicious and great tasting to me (laughs). American cuisine is full of flavor and I feel like both Nigerian and Americans are not afraid of seasoning. Nigerian food is very bold, out there, and we use a lot of spices and herbs. We love rice, soups, and stews. They both have evolved in numerous ways. American cuisine has a mix of European and American flavors while Nigerian flavors are similar to most West African countries. We may a lot of similar dishes in different ways with our neighboring countries such as Ghana or Congo.
With Nigerian food, a lot of effort goes into some of the dishes. Some dishes may take hours to make. There is always a benefit in the end though; I never think that there is a waste in effort. I find that what you put in is what you get out of it. Another thing, a lot of the ingredients that we use are different. I feel like there is not a lot shared between Nigerian and American kitchens. In Nigerian, you will most likely see indigenous ingredients like cassava flour, locust beans, herbs like bitter leaf so I believe these would be absent from American kitchens unless you know about it. It is more likely that you will find American ingredients in a Nigerian kitchen than the other way around.
What can we expect to see from Ivonne Ajayi in the future?
I hope there will be more delicious recipes; I do have loads that I would like to share! There will more great content that relates to food and other things. Hopefully one day you will see a cookbook.
Be sure to subscribe to Ivonne Ajayi on YouTube today!
Click here to visit her blog!
You can stay connected with her by following her on Instagram.