[Interview] Adwoa Hagan-Mensah, Founder, Eat Jollof, UK
When the world thinks of fine-dining, African food is not often at the top of the list of cuisines to be considered, something which Ghana-born Adwoa Hagan-Mensah is working hard to change.
Would you please introduce Eat Jollof London?
Eat Jollof London is a modern creative event catering company based in London, England specialising in both West African and fusion cuisine, operating across the UK. Eat Jollof London cater for various types of events to intimate dinner parties and large corporate events.
When and why was it set up?
Eat Jollof London was set up 4 years ago, with the aim of providing authentic, and tasty West African cuisine to the mainstream British market.
West African food has always been known for its highly carbohydrate dishes of rice, cassava and yam complemented with heavy stews and soups. Eat Jollof London was created to change the public’s perception of West African food and showcase how delicious, fresh and vibrant it can be by offering a varied menu catering for a range of tastes without losing the quality of the products on the menu or the standard of service which it is presented.
What is the unique selling point of Eat Jollof Lonon?
As a company we pride ourselves on our diverse and exciting menus for catering different services buffet, family style (turntable) and plated.
We have become renowned for our plated service/ fine dining - a three course formal meal option, where each guest is individually served with our West African inspired dishes as a culinary work of art, using space colour and texture.
What support, if any, did you receive from the community when starting your company?
Eat Jollof didn't receive much support from our local council (Barking and Dagenham). We did however receive fantastic support from other African food businesses and networks.
Has your company entered into any strategic partnerships?
Eat Jollof London currently has corporate partnerships with City Pantry and Caterwings. As caterers it is crucial to build strong relationships with venues.
How is the current UK economy affecting SMEs and startup businesses now?
With Brexit looming, uncertainty is palpable with many small businesses we are affiliated with. Like it or not small businesses will be affected and the signs are already showing in the business. A number of our suppliers have pushed up food prices on imported goods which was inevitable making the cost of production 6% more expensive than this time last year. But more noticeably a number of our core European service team are returning to Europe with many more pending awaiting the 2017 elections. Recruiting staff for the service industry is becoming increasingly more difficult.
What can you say about the changes and developments Eat Jollof has undergone since its inception?
The company has focused heavily on training Event and service staff to a very high standard to complement our stand out brand. As part of this training we also regularly send our chefs of training holidays to West Africa to help them understand and discover new and unusual flavours to add to our ever growing menus.
Eat Jollof is also currently in talks to start a branch in Accra, Ghana.