Star Spotlight: Tiyan Alile (Culinary Academy)
TELL us about yourself, growing up, family background, education and all
I grew up in a very close knit family where daddy was a doctor and mummy was a lawyer; however, we were always allowed to express our creativity in fine arts, drama, music and most especially cooking. Being the fourth of five children, my parents had become much more permissive and I was allowed to be more expressive artistically, than my older siblings. I have always been creative and I feel very comfortable expressing it through food. I have a Bachelors Degree in Law, I was called to the Nigerian Bar and I have a Pro Certification in Advanced Culinary Arts.
What else do you do for a living?
The only thing I do for a living is dedicate myself, my talent and my time to globally advancing Culinary Arts through my School the Culinary Academy. I teach Culinary Arts to aspiring chefs, food enthusiasts and provide advisory services to restaurants, hotels and recreational facilities on the best practices to operate and manage a kitchen. I would say I cook for a living.
Please fill us in on your rise to fame in culinary and how did it all start.
I formally launched into this industry 16 years ago with my first barbecue and grill house called Tees Hot Bites. Prior to that I had a cup cake business in High School called Tea Time Cupcakes, which was just for fun until my mother noticed how much cooking gas my cupcake business was consuming. Subsequently I have owned and run Matchsticks Concepts which is geared towards transforming our African Cuisine using local ingredients. I currently own a Private Chef dining experience which is morphing into a chef owned restaurant called Tarragon. It has been a slow and steady rise with set objectives, it has been a learning process in and out of kitchens and Culinary School but altogether it has been immeasurably rewarding.
Do you have other jobs (if you do, which of your many jobs excite you the most)?
I do not have any other Jobs but I have many hobbies, in particular I practice and teach the Art of Yoga which has helped me stay centered, intuitive and focused on my goals. I also belong to the Rotary Club of V.I. East, a platform from where I give back to the society through humanitarian projects, having presided over the club as President, I found through my service projects that there is so much we can do to give back to our society.
What other areas of your career are you looking to explore?
One of our objectives at the Culinary Academy is to be globally recognized as raising the standards of Culinary Arts. Recently, I was invited to South Africa to demo Nigerian food and to teach a master-class at the Central Johannesburg College, we have also been invited to participate in the Young Chef Olympiad in India. Having been recognized on these global platforms, I would definitely say more International participation with big brands would be an area I would love to explore in harness.
What has been the high point of your Culinary Career?
The highest point of my career has been putting together the Culinary Academy which is a currently the only Culinary School in Nigeria with a curriculum as robust and globally competitive as ours. Our facility is very modern and I am proud of what we have achieved in this regard, it certainly means dreams come true and it is an indication that possibilities and opportunities abound. It makes me extremely hopeful for a brilliant future.
What has been the lowest so far?
I am such a positive person that I do not see lows or obstacles, I see possibilities in every situation, I never throw pity parties, I just get up and get things done one way or the other. Every business has challenges but there is always a solution that can create even more opportunities.
What are the plans for the future- short term goals, anything.
I look back and see that I have trained and taught over a thousand people through the years, it makes me want to do more. It makes me feel the industry can and would get better, people would eat better food, get better service and I would be remembered for making that change we all desire to see.
Where do I see the hospitality Industry going?
I am the current president of the Culinary Arts Practitioners Association, I have teamed up with other skilled, passionate and enthusiastic chefs and our primary objective is to raise standards in the industry, to encourage and foster continuous learning and professional advancement so we can meet and surpass international standards. With the growth spurt in the hospitality Industry in Nigeria, we must match it with skilled labour. It is a promise that through the Association and the school, we would train and mentor the hands required for the industry.
What would you say is your style of Cuisine.
Food is a platform with which individuals and ethnicities express themselves and hone their identity. I like refined cuisine, I like modernist style plating and I love to fuse colors, aromas and textures together to arrive at an unforgettable dining experience every time. Every chef has their personal style and I believe we all create with our minds and interpret it on a plate.