- Hephzibah Osinubi, a Nigerian living in Nairobi, has brought the warmth and flavor of other sumptuous meals to Kenya through dishes prepared at her Hephie’s Cloud Kitchen.
- It focused on Nigerian food, but has grown over time to cater to customers who want to try Ghanaian and Senegalese cuisine.
- The kitchen works with a static menu that delivers food for orders or events such as parties, housewarming, bridal showers, and birthdays.
For many Kenyans, jollof rice and fufu is all they know about Nigerian food.
Hephzibah Osinubi, a Nigerian living in Nairobi, has brought the warmth and flavor of other sumptuous meals to Kenya through dishes prepared at her Hephie’s Cloud Kitchen.
The international lawyer with a master’s degree started the business in 2020 after moving to Nairobi in 2019.
“I moved to Kenya for love,” says the businessman who has since stopped practicing law.
“When I settled here, I discovered that there was a gap in the understanding and availability of Western food. I wanted to fill this in and synergize our culture through food, which is one of the things I’m good at, ”she says.
Hephie’s Kitchen began at his family’s home in Nairobi during the pandemic, taking advantage of a period when restaurants had closed.
It focused on Nigerian food, but has grown over time to cater to customers who want to try Ghanaian and Senegalese cuisine.
Part of the kitchen’s special menu includes gizdodo, a Nigerian delicacy of minced sweetbreads and bananas, kilishi, spicy Nigerian beef jerky, kelewele, Ghanaian spiced fried ripe bananas and waakye, a Ghanaian dish of rice and cooked beans.
Fish dishes include whole grilled catfish and poisson yassa, a seasoned fish bathed in a lemon, garlic and mustard sauce, both from Senegal, yam, pepper and peanut soups, and fufu.
It also has a vegan Moroccan zaalouk dish and an Ethiopian injera dish, wraps, local foods, and salads.
“The idea behind the kitchen is to educate people about Western and African cuisine as a whole. While we have popular foods, we have foods that we want customers to become familiar with, ”he says.
Most of their clients order jollof and kelewele from Ghana.
“For a while, most of them had fun and when they feel comfortable they start trying other things on the menu.”
“But jollof is one of the ‘club banger’ in the kitchen,” he adds.
Fresh ingredients like peppers and vegetables are purchased from local farmers, however specific spices are sourced from source countries like Nigerian crayfish to maintain flavor.
The kitchen works with a static menu that delivers food for orders or events such as parties, housewarming, bridal showers, and birthdays.
Ms. Osinubi also organizes a gastronomic event on the last Saturday of each month, adding music and culture.
Since then, he has moved to an industrial kitchen in the Kilimani area of Nairobi.
From there, he prepares food for 40 to 60 or hundreds of buffets and lunches for the office workers.
“When I started cooking from home, I was able to meet the demand of people who wanted quality food with fast delivery. But in between, a lot of things have changed. I’m not the only one in the kitchen anymore. I am in quality control, training, customer service and handling the commercial part, but we feel good about the growth ”, he says.
The cloud kitchen works with a team of 18 employees, including three chefs, prep chefs, her as an executive chef, and customer service staff.
“I let everyone do what they are good at and learn from each other,” he says, adding that African food has a lot in common with the difference of some cooking procedures.
“Look at the Ghanaian jollof that is harder, the Nigerian jollof that changes flavor with tomato paste, and the Kenyan pilau that is caramelised, they are almost like cousins,” he says.
Her favorite Kenyan dishes are chapati, fried cabbage, and nyama choma.