Taylor Odeje was seven when he prepared his first meal, a steaming pot of Jollof rice. While his meal was consumed with gusto by his parents and siblings, he was equally rebuffed for cooking as they felt that was a girl’s duty. The dismissal from the kitchen did not stop little Taylor from his cooking experiments and today that resolution has paid off.
Drawing from his eternal love for food, his resolution in turning meals into an experience, and his entrepreneurial drive, Taylor now owns and runs The Colony, a restaurant in the heart of Abuja dedicated to providing a great ambience, exceptional service, awesome food, good music, and an unforgettable time.
We caught up with Chef Taylor at the Colony to learn more about his Culinary adventures so far and maybe learn about the secret recipe to the perfect pot of jollof rice:
You’ve Always Loved Cooking But at What Stage Did You Decide To Monetize Your Passion:
My first trial with that was back in the university when I needed to make some extra cash but I think my first successful attempt was in 2016 after the promptings of my friend Olamide, yes, that Olamide, and Timi who helped secure my first major paycheck as a chef when I orchestrated the meal arrangements for his girlfriend’s birthday.
So How Has The Journey Been From That Stage To Present:
Most of my earliest working experiences were with hotels. I started with Iris hotel, proceeded to Sv Chrome Jabi, became the executive chef of Varnern residence, and did a colony restaurant pop up in collaboration with Café Neo before opening up my restaurant in March this year.
Tell Us Something People Might Not Know About The Colony:
We have in the works something called the one for one initiative where after we attain selling 5,000 meals in the restaurant, we plan to feed some IDP communities in the FCT free meals for a week.
Another thing people might not know is that we often offer discounts or freebies on the receipts but people rarely read them. Read your receipts people!
What’s The Most Challenging Thing About Running A Restaurant In Nigeria:
Power instability is a major challenge coupled with the cost of production. Getting the right staff was a bit of a challenge in the initial stages too.
How Are You Overcoming These Challenges:
Some high school economics knowledge has come in handy, I use the scale of preference and opportunity cost to manage the needs of the restaurant. DuringsSlow hours, we cut down on power use but of course, whenever we have a customer the power comes fully on.
What’s The Most Rewarding Thing About Running A Restaurant In Nigeria:
Getting positive feedback from customers, it’s always a joy seeing people come together to eat and commune and have fun in the process. I also love seeing my books at the end of the month and learning new things as the business progresses.
What’s Your Advice For Young Entrepreneurs Who Want To Venture into The Culinary Business:
Be super Passionate. Have a solid plan. Build small and then grow big. Be humble and love the service industry. Always remember customers first, no matter the cost.
Where Do You See The Colony In The Next Five Years:
I see multiple colony restaurants in different cities. I also hope to branch into the hotel business in the future.
Fast Track Questions
What’s your signature Meal? Hard to choose one. I have a lot of favorites. I do make a mean Egusi soup though.
What Nigerian Tribe Makes the best meals? The Idomas. I said what I said.
Who’s your culinary inspiration? Gordon Ramsay. I practically follow everything he does.
If you weren’t a chef, what career path will you take? I’d go into media and advertising.
Asides Nigerian cuisine, what other nationality do you think makes great meals? I love the flavors of Latin American food because they are similar to ours. Italian pasta will always be great and Chinese cuisine too.
What inspired the name ‘The Colony’? When I moved to Abuja, I remember thinking I’m going to create my own space here, carve a niche, run a kingdom, own a colony.
What’s the secret to a perfect pot of Jollof Rice? I’m sorry but if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.
The colony is located at 24 Bujumbura Street, Off Libreville Crescent, Wuse, Abuja.