Unveiling the Artistry and Inspiration: An Insightful Interview with Chef Chukudi Emmanuel Anajemba

Chukwudi Emmanuel Anajemba, a seasoned pastry chef with over a decade of experience spanning Nigeria, UAE, and the UK, shares insights into his culinary journey and inspirations.

His passion for the artistry and craftsmanship of cooking, instilled since childhood, led him to pursue a career fueled by creativity and dedication. Inspired by a mentor’s demeanor and the respect accorded to chefs, Chukudi embarked on a path driven by the love for food and the desire to excel in his craft.

So what inspired you, what started you on your career path?

My name is Chukwudi Emmanuel Anajemba. I have been a pastry chef for about 11 to 12 years now, from Nigeria to UAE and now in the UK. What inspired me in this career path was the love for artistry, craftsmanship, and building your area of specification on whatever you want to do and the drive to do it well. I’ve always had that love for food, had a love for being a chef from childhood and directly, it was a chef who also inspired me.

I was looking at him, the way he dressed, his uniform, his mode of behavior and the respect that was given to him. So, I was like I would love to try this, I would love to be a chef one day and see how it will go for me.

How do you describe your style of cooking?

My style of cooking is a specific style. It’s exclusively a pastry section although I do other kinds of cooking, I also do the hot kitchen, and the cold kitchen sections but i mainly specializing in pastry session and the reason why is because the pastry session is very international, is very few, there’s a lot of knowledge attached to it. Back in Nigeria there’s little, we know about being a pastry chef.

So when you come out the outskirt of Nigeria that you find out that there are a lot of things attached to being a pastry chef. So, my exclusive style of cooking is being a pastry chef.

What is your signature dish?

My signature dish is any dish that has lemon in it. I’m a very big fan of lemon because of the slap in it am a fan of any dessert that has got lemon in it. There are lots of lemons, the lime, lemon, yuzu, mandarin, passion fruit, namelaka, there are lots of lemon all over the world so, any dessert that’s got lemon in it is my signature thing.

What do you do in your business and personal life to aid sustainability?

What I do to sustain my personal life in by sustainability is that I personally take time to develop myself. So, I work on myself than I do on my job. I take time to build myself as a person, I take time to build myself as a chef. Most times, I find out that chefs are just capitalizing on the job but I love to do something outside my job.

I love to develop myself outside my job, I try to do different things, try to gain more knowledge that is outside the chef circle, developing yourself because the world is evolving. And what makes you a great craftsman is the ability to bring different information to form a solution in the area you are specialized in and that is like advancement.

So I take timeout time most especially to develop myself even outside my area of specification. So that’s how I maintain my sustainability.

Is there a Chef you truly admire and why?

Oh! There are a lot of chefs I admire all over the world and there are a lot of reasons. I found out that every chef has his or her specifications. Mostly, every chef that I have been privileged to work with, or I have seen, they all have their specification, what makes them unique, what makes them stand out from every other chef.

Chef Chukudi Emmanuel Enajemba

Now, most of them have the same knowledge. But what makes you special is the ability to bring out, to stand firm in the cycle of being a chef. You are going to be recognized for this particular thing. One of the Chefs I admire the most is Cédric Grolet, he is a French pastry chef, and he’s one of the biggest chefs in the world. One of the things I admire about him is his ability to create fruits from pastry, all kinds of fruits, there’s how he creates it and he goes into creating moles, books, silpat, silicones, tools and induction stoves and has like his brand in it. There are a lot of them.

There are lots of other Chefs too who I admire that I cannot mention now but one of the things I admire Cédric Grolet is the ability to create fruits in a cake you just love the craftsmanship, the focus and the dedication he puts into creating these things is so exciting. If you see any of his videos, you will understand what I’m saying.

When it comes to different styles of cooking, do you prefer fine dining over the brasserie style of cuisine?

I prefer fine dining because fine dining brings out the uniqueness in you as a chef. It gives you the time to gently and selectively dish out your style of cooking, it gives you the area to express yourself because one thing I always say is, from the food you can know be chef’s mood, how happy the chef is feeling is how the food is going to come out.

Chef Chukudi Emmanuel Enajemba

If the Chef is sad, angry, excited, inexperienced, or experienced, you will see it in the food. Even if the chef is tired, underpaid, if he’s not feeling really good about himself, you see it in the food because the food is an extension of ourselves and that’s how I see being a chef. We try to express our feelings and put them on a plate i love to do my best so when you eat whatever I make and send to you, you will feel the feeling that I’m feeling at that particular time that’s why I like fine dining because it allows you to express yourself.

What is your advice to any future chef?

My advice to future chefs is to keep going, never stay in a place. I’ve got lots of friends and lots of Chefs that stay in a place. Never stay in a place, the only place you are permitted to stay is when it’s your organization or your company. I don’t think anybody has the power to pay you as much as you work. Because you know the value you put in and at the end of the day, every chef will say they are underpaid why? It’s because of the amount of stress they put in, you know how a chef life is, there’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours, a lot of stress and you have to keep denying yourself from basic needs of humanity.

So, for being a chef you need to learn how to move around the hospitality environment and the people. I also believe again that purchasing a good food is derived from the minds of people because all of this foods we eat today are derived from the mind and how would you know the mind of the people when you know nothing about the environment? And for a chef who creates a meal, most of them have a background of their childhood and you can only understand the environment they have being.

Always leave your comfort zone and try to explore other chef’s environments and see how they created things; creation matters a lot. So, my advice to every young chef is to strive to leave your comfort zone. Try to do more than you expected whenever tasks are given, and try to develop yourself. Search for things, always search for things, the Chef industry has evolved, it’s not the same as it was twenty, thirty years ago.

So you need to try to personally evolve, try to personally train yourself by yourself because nobody has the time to train anyone as a chef unless you go to a culinary school, not everybody has the time to go to culinary school. So, if you are a chef in the kitchen, you need to also create time, no matter how hard it is or the hours you are working, create time to develop yourself, create time to search what is going on in other chef industry all over the world. So that’s it, I’m really privilege for this opportunity.

Thank you so much.

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