Tolu Erogbogbo is a self taught gourmet chef in Lagos and I had the opportunity to join him at the photoshoot for his new brand "FreshPrep" (more on that later). We got to discuss a few things and I was excited to learn a bit about the guy behind the Eros brand.
His culinary career started as a student of the University of Wolverhampton when he started calling his mum for instructions for cooking. His memories of his mum's home made beans was one of the major things that drove him to learn how to combine flavour profiles. He fondly reflects "I remember being on the phone with her as she talked me through the process. It didn't come out like hers at first but at least it was edible."
Like most processes, the first few tries didn't go according to plan but Tolu remained steadfast in improving his art. His knack for business was evident from a young age and once he felt like he had honed the skill to a certain standard, he decided to sell pre-seasoned meats to his course mates for extra cash.
I was curious to know more about the journey of building multiple businesses, particularly the negatives. Tolu is opposed to crying over spilt milk when it comes to dealing with struggles. He remarks: "if it's negative and it's not within my power to change, then I am not going to worry about it." Not giving attention to these issues lets you focus on more important things. Business doesn't always run smoothly and tough decisions must be made from time to time and one of Tolu's biggest regrets is closing down his Cookie Jar location on Admiralty way, Lekki.
Tolu demonstrates that an organised mind is an advantageous business trait. This was apparent to me from the manner he organised his team for the shoot. He was very meticulous as he prepped, down to how much seasoning was sprinkled on the set, and it was interesting to notice some parallels in his food/products. The International Business Management degree definitely manifested herself.
He uses certain specialty ingredients (foie gras, truffles, etc) in his dishes and I wanted to know why he would bother with these rare (expensive) elements. He explains "Deep down I'm a billionaire and I want to give a taste of that lifestyle. I recognise that not everyone can afford high-end dishes and as a business man, I know what it means to part with your hard-earned money. However, I can guarantee that if you spend N5,000 at any Eros brand, I strive to make sure it's worth it."
According to Tolu, taking the time to perfect your craft is crucial as it gives you a competitive edge. "Only experience can teach you when exactly you need to turn the Jollof rice for extra flavour". He has now shifted focus to a more supervisory role in the kitchen and prefers to share what he knows.
Fast forward to now, House of Eros is a multi-brand conglomerate that houses - the Cookie Jar Bakery, Eros & Gourmet Catering Services, Ile Eros Restaurant and its latest addition FreshPrep.
FreshPrep is a service that provides pre-prepped ingredients for meals to be cooked at home. Chopped vegetables, seasoned meats and spices accompanying specific meals are delivered to customers to ease the cooking process. "I thought up this product because I wanted people to be able to cook Eros quality meals in their homes. People are spending more time at home nowadays and since I learned how to cook by following instructions, anyone can". You can get more info about FreshPrep HERE.
I really enjoyed my chat with Chef Eros and I really like what he's doing with the local cuisine. You can find his personal instagram HERE.
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