Entrepreneur opens UK’s only African cookery school in north London

A young entrepreneur has opened the country’s first cookery school dedicated solely to African food in north London.

Akhaya Cookery School offers people with a passion for food the chance to explore the diverse flavours of the continent.

Enthusiastic amateur cooks are taught to use tasty ingredients including yams, sweet potatoes, cassava leaf, and many more, in mouth watering dishes such as Benachin, Nigerian-style Jollof rice, Egusi soup, or Kenyan style Kuku.

Company founder Jennifer Okpapi runs classes from her airy kitchen in the Tottenham Green Enterprise Centre in Town Hall Approach Road, Tottenham. She was inspired to explore African dishes cooking with her family growing up in Tottenham.

The 27-year-old, who now lives in Winchmore Hill, said: “I was raised with African food because my parents are from Nigeria and I have family from other parts of Africa as well, so I’ve had quite a lot of influences and my mum and other members of my family taught me to cook from a young age.

“I think of all the cuisines out there African cookery is the least known and I wanted to do something about that really.”

The school runs group courses, private courses and workshops, and prices start from �75 with some taster evening sessions available free of charge to attract novices curious about African food.

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All ingredients are supplied and food is packaged up to take home, along with Akhaya recipe cards so the dishes can be made again.

The range of courses reflects the diversity of African food, which has a whole assortment of flavours from spicy to fragrant and aromatic, and there are sessions on East and West African vegetarian cookery, taster classes on food from Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco, and spicing-up seafood and chicken.

As well as a lifelong love of food, Jennifer also has a business degree from Brunel University and has studied cookery at Southgate College - which she hopes will prove a winning combination for the fledging cookery school.

She has won backing from The Prince’s Trust and the Bright Ideas Trust and now dreams of placing African food firmly on the culinary map in the capital and beyond.

“We want to be known when people think of African food and then very much later down the line possibly a restaurant and other ventures,” she said.

“There is that saying that chefs make terrible business brains, so I’m hoping that I can counter that bit. We’ll see!”

To find out more visit www.akhaya.com