From Okwe Obi
It is not everyday you come across beautiful and psychedelic ladies with silky skins burning their fingers and bracing up to the hot kitchen furnace, displaying culinary skills to shore up their sources of revenue.
As it is today, especially, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where it is the prerogative of ladies to paint the town red, these ladies ordinarily should have amassed for themselves multiple well-to-do male folks ever willing to foot their bills unperturbed while they reimburse in kind.
At surface level, you could mistake them for job seekers combing the streets in search of white-collar jobs, or people who do not know how to boil water or make noodles let alone stringing ingredients to make delicious delicacies.
However, it is not out of place to say that there is no known dish Nigeria they cannot prepare inasmuch as they have tasted it. Be it “nkwobi, ewa aganyin”, pepper soup, “tuwo shinkafa, moi-moi, afang” soup, “suya, efo riro”, jollof rice, “egusi” soup, pounded yam, “amala” and “ewedu, abacha” and “ugba, ogbono” soup or “adalu”; they are equal to the task.
The business is so organised in the sense that the meals are measured in litres. They are either prepared in their homes or the homes of their clients, depending on the arrangement and cost. Also the ingredients are either purchased by the clients or the cooks. All that is important is for it to measure up to the required quantity.
And talking about the patrons, they cut across all strata of the society; the married, unmarried, divorced, male and females, old and young, they all want to have swell times enjoying themselves.
For Amaka Darlington, with both first and second degrees in Mass Communications, cooking business was never what she wanted commercialising. It was a guest at an event in her family house who tasted a plate of pepper soup she prepared.
Just like Oliver Twist, he wanted more by appealing to her to make something for him. That was how she started getting calls from referrals:
“I have always liked cooking but I did not start professionally until 2018. It started as a joke my family and close friends would always tell me I cook well. So whenever my friends had a house party, the cooking always fell on me.
“One day after a house party, someone was asking about who made the pepper soup, I replied I did. He asked if I could make him soup and he would pay, I agreed. I asked what kind of soup he wanted, if he liked pepper or not and what type of protein he wanted in his soup.
“I got all the information; it was peppery okra soup with goat meat that he wanted. He asked that it be delivered to him on Friday. We agreed on a deal, when he asked for how much it would cost, I did not have an immediate answer. I told him when I was done and he liked the soup I would give him a price.
“He liked the soup and he became my first customer, I charged him N4,500 for a litre of soup. He referred people to me and that was how I started a weekend soup business with grilled fish and chicken by the side.”
She said every meal has its own price: “Certain soup has certain price charge like seafood okra costs N8,500; vegetable soup with beef and goat meat goes for N6,000; “egusi” soup with beef or goat meat is N5,500. Soup with fresh fish or seafood costs more because seafood is expensive.
“To make profit, I had to find places to buy cheap and affordable ingredients for my seafood and fish. I go to Kado Fish Market. I also go to Garki Market to get them at affordable prices. And if I have a short notice order and cannot go to the market, I buy my ingredients online. I like this online market because their fresh vegetables came in a large quantity for a small price.
“My weekend income is N70,000 on a good weekend and can be more if I have more orders.”
An Architect, Abam Ogban, said when her friend introduced her to the business, she initially brushed the thought aside. She was not ready for the stress:
“It started when a friend said I could do cooking and get paid for it. I was in her house helping her cook on a
“We joked and laughed over it. A month later, I got a phone call from her to cook for a client of hers, and I did and I was paid. So it became a routine every weekend. The least I make is N5,000 aside the purchase of ingredients. I am planning to expand the business soonest.”
Mary Odey, currently undertaking her Masters Degree programme, noted that after graduating from the university, cooking to earn money was the least thought she had. But her voyage to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), changed all that:
“Abuja is a land of opportunities which most people do not see. Everybody wants a government job. Cooking is something I did for fun but when I came to Abuja and a friend introduced the business I caved in effortlessly.
“I am an architect, a profession I love dearly. When I saw that some persons move from house to house especially during weekends to cook for a living and earned N5000 to N10000 it surprised me. I decided to give it a shot and since then, I have been doing it and it has been profitable.”
Naval staff Paul Oyim, is a client. He was surprised when his female colleague hinted how it works after he had a terrible encounter at a restaurant:
“At first, when my friend advised me to patronise one of these girls, I didn’t take her seriously. But her insistence prodded me to give one of them a trial after eating poisoned meal at a restaurant. I decided to eat home-made meal.
“I contacted this girl to come and cook for me. But before then, I had purchased the ingredients myself. When she came and started cooking I made sure I stayed with her until she finished. When I tasted the soup she made, I craved for more.”