My name is Lerato, a southern African name which means, ‘passion’. I am certainly passionate about food; foraging, cooking, eating and sharing food. This has led to a food career in print, television and in the kitchen, bringing my recipes and ideas to different people and plates. Over the years I have met so many like-minded people who support and inspire me, and I am thankful for that. Every day I get to do what I love is a blessing and I hope to continue to share my joy with you.
My Food Philosophy
I am perpetually inspired by the sweet smokey air from firewood cooking cauldrons of jollof rice and stews, memories of ripe mangoes waiting to be plucked, kids throwing stones at my mother's date palm, for hopes of bagging sweets for the day, the women fanning corn as it roasts on open flames with customers rustling for first dibs on the streets of Lagos, my mother's love for oranges, pears how fresh fruits in the markets and street stalls always stop her in her tracks. These first-hand experiences shape my love and approach to food today.
My cooking is inspired by rich African traditions, and a mixed upbringing enjoying foods of the world. I am heavily influenced by my family which is made up of both Africans and Europeans. We are passionate about roasted plantains as much as we are about Dutch oliebollen.
My goal is not a forced fusion for the sake of it, but a happy marriage of cultures."
African food is not as understood and celebrated as other wonderful world cuisines and I am on a mission to change that. My recipes highlight the adaptability of our wonderful spices, fruits and vegetables into a wholesome and healthy lifestyle.
In my quest to popularise African food, I am not restricted by borders, culture and tradition. All tradition is influenced by other cultures, people. For centuries, as we have moved and evolved so has our food and we will continue to do so.
Seasonal produce inspires me to eat a healthy and varied diet and I enjoy sharing this ethos with guests at my dinners and cookery classes. I am fortunate to have first-hand experiences of growing, foraging and cooking in the different regions of Nigeria with varying cuisines, and now living close to the beautiful South Downs on the southern coast of England, with lush farms and food producers from whom I source the best produce.
The apple did not fall far from the tree in my case, as my mother was a young restaurateur in Nigeria, where she ran a popular restaurant in Lagos in her 20’s. Although I was not encouraged to spend time in the kitchen for fear of accidents – which is rather unusual for an African girl who is taught to cook from a young age, I was quite the rebellious child who turned out to be entirely consumed by the wonders of food; so I disobeyed my mother lots of times and I have the hot oil scars to show for it. Now I cook, share and write about all that I love and learn about food.
I love being able to share and enjoy all kinds of food from all over the world. I am passionate about food provenance, seasonal, healthy yet sumptuous food and I always aspire to create the very best with what I have been blessed with.
I am very proud of the cultural melange in my family and in our world and I celebrate these at my supper clubs, pop-ups such as African Afternoon Tea and cookery classes. I share African food as a multiplicity and diversity of cultures. I also use this opportunity to highlight the hard-working farmers who provide foods such as the large amounts of West African grown cocoa and cacao which account for two-thirds of the amount in circulation around the world.
Television & Writing
I may have caught the bug for the camera when my brother and I featured in a Coca Cola advert as children. But it wasn’t until after studying Economics at university in London, and moving to Abuja to set up my gourmet food company, that I was approached by a producer to appear in a syndicated food TV show on the major DSTV network which broadcasts across Africa.
The show aired in 2012, celebrating African food and a healthy lifestyle, with celebrity guests and members of the public. In 2014, I produced and presented The Bite, on Cool TV, another national station. On the show, I shared easy, creative, healthy and sumptuous recipes celebrating the oneness of food as I found creative ways to bridge the gap between African foods and those of other regions.
In my weekly column in the prestigious Nigerian national newspaper, The Guardian, I share recipes that celebrate African foods whilst using the best of what my environment has to offer especially British produce. In addition to writing, I regularly promote African cooking as a guest on several talks, demonstrations, radio and television programs such as the BBC.
What I have got cooking at the moment…
Talks, Cookery Classes & demonstrations, Private Dining Experiences & Supper Clubs
I have found the perfect way to share food with as many people through my cookery classes, supper clubs and pop-ups from Lagos, to London, Brighton and now Eastbourne. They have become popular for the vibrant and seasonal selection of African and British local produce, explosive flavours and food stories inspired by rich African traditions.
The menu appeals to a wide range of people especially those on plant-based diets because my love for cooking greens and fruits with African spices and superfoods is evident. You come in with friends, family or alone and leave with happy tummies and new bonds. I also host lots of cookery classes, talks, demonstrations and private dining experiences in collaboration with brands and also for personal clients who love the treat of contemporary African food.
Events & Collaborations
I have collaborated with amazing brands and organisations that share my vision of fair trade for African farmers who work hard to feed their families while producing foods which the world enjoys. I hope to be able to shine more light on their work by buying their products and supporting their campaigns.
In 2017 I was invited to host a masterclass at the GTBank Food & Drink Fair in Lagos, Nigeria. This prestigious Pan-African bank organises these to support and highlight the entrepreneurial might of African food and drink businesses, from farming, to food processing, restaurants, and food products. This was such an honour as the fair attracted over 50,000 people on both days, as well as over five hundred who registered and attended my masterclass. It was one of the most exciting experiences I have had, and a true blessing to share my food philosophy and sumptuous recipes with passionate people.
Cookery Classes, Cookbook & Lerato Foods & Naturals
My cookery classes take place in London and Sussex and I thoroughly enjoy sharing wonderful food with different people week after week. This is a great way to share new foods with people, to inspire and share healthy and modern recipes.
I am working on a cookbook; with lots of food stories and recipes made up of my favourites and the most popular recipes from supperclub. A range of natural food and lifestyle products have been my dream for such a long time, and I am working hard to share these soon.
My greatest joy in cooking is in learning and sharing, especially celebrating the best of African food. I hope that through my passion, experiences, discoveries, and recipes, you too will find joy in learning and sharing glorious food.
Let’s get cooking!