JF: Who are you and what do you do?
KA: My name is Kwaku Asare, some people know me as the man behind Kwaku’s Kitchen. I studied in the Midlands and I have been working as an Operations Manager within an Architecture firm since graduation. A fun fact about me is that I absolutely LOVE high-life, hip-life – you name it, I love it!
JF: I guess you are definitely up there with the golden oldies! Tell me a little more about Kwaku’s Kitchen and how it came about.
KA: I went to the University of Leicester and I would say that Kwaku’s Kitchen was the first student-based West African takeaway in the Midlands. I love food and growing up, I was always in the kitchen with my Mum and my Aunties. I actually made my first ever jollof rice in university and it was really good. The more I cooked, the better I got. I did host a lot of my friends before starting Kwaku’s Kitchen and they really did enjoy the meals. I found that the African takeaways in Leicester and surrounding areas were not student friendly in terms of price. I started officially in 2nd year where I would make jollof rice, plantain and chicken in containers. It grew from there. I have catered for some events with the recent King’s College African Caribbean Society Culture Shock being one of them (450 containers of goodness from Kwaku’s Kitchen!) and also, the first Viva Hall Party that took place in Leicester.
JF: What are your opinions on the current political climate in Ghana?
KA: I happened to be in Ghana a week after the elections took place. It is a given that Akufo-Addo is a well-educated man and confident in how he would like to steer Ghana under his tenure. Something that struck out to me in one of his speeches last year was that he wanted Ghana to stop relying heavily on aid. I believe this is a bold and very commendable statement. On the flip side, I am a little sceptical as to how effective his policies will be in the short-term as he may not be in office for long enough. I think it important for those in political positions to have a progressive mindset – look at what hasn’t gone well in the past and focus on how we can correct said wrongs and uproot certain foundations. We cannot build a sustainable Ghana on poor foundations. I also think the lack of infrastructure is also something we need the government to heavily invest in.
JF: I agree. I am very optimistic I must admit and believe that if Ghanaians in Ghana and in the wider diaspora became more proactive, we could work towards building a better Ghana. What do you think we in the Diaspora can do?
KA: As the old saying goes, charity begins at home. More of us need to consider what we are going to give back to our homeland every time we travel back there. This isn’t solely monetary and can be done in a number of ways. Take your old clothes, books, school supplies and liaise with NGO’s in Ghana. Give what you can. I believe that the Ghana Embassy in London and the High Commissioner could do more to bridge the gap of communication and ultimately create a sense of community amongst the millennial here in the UK. I am currently working on an initiative, starting with Londoners, to come together as a community and pen down practical give-back action plans. .
JF: I think you have raised a number of good points and would really like to see a greater sense of community amongst Ghanaians in the UK. I think that sense of community has been lost a little over the years. Gone are the days we would go to Tottenham or Broadwater Farm for weekly hall parties and gatherings. There are a number of initiatives like Future of Ghana and Ekua Haizel that are being proactive in giving back to Ghana. I know there are many more and would love to see how they progress over the next year. I think it is important for said initiatives to remove unnecessary elitism from their mindsets and include as many as are willing into their projects.
JF: What is next for you and for Kwaku’s Kitchen?
KA: I recently resigned from my job after working for just under 3 years. I must admit, I felt relieved, despite the fact that it was a scary decision to make. Provided you put God at the forefront of all you do, you will never be put to shame. I am in the process of re-launching Kwaku’s Kitchen and have some fantastic ideas in store for all readers. I would love to expand and cater for more events and venture into creating a fine dining experience.
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Kwaku and finding out a little more about his motivations behind his business. I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single one entrepreneur and young professional that took part in this Independence Day series. To every reader, Ghanaian or not, you are more than capable of excelling within your respective field and giving back to your community only if you apply yourself. Check out the other posts in the series if you haven't already and look out for the further expansion of JENNIFERFRIMPONG.
Be sure to follow Kwaku's Kitchen on the linked social media pages and place your orders after the launch!