Our resident archivist, Andinha, had a chance to sit down in our showroom with Adeola of Yola’s Kitchen, the famous dinner party host of Atlanta’s International Community. We were honoured to have her in our store and in studio at Atlanta Fusion Bellydance with instructor Mimi. Dive in for something a little different. Food is fashionable and after a long raqs class shimmying around in your MissBellydance.com attire, you’ll want a heaping helping of what Adeola is serving at her fantastic and fashionable dinner parties. Long live our friends, fans and fellow international community members! This is what life is all about!
It’s almost Norooz! Persian New Year means food, fun and lots of family gatherings in addition to dance shows. I just completed my annual Bandari Basics classes including a private session with a local international community member. With cultural dance communities come events, food, fun and new friends. How many times in my youth and (especially as an adult with the ability to move around and make my own decisions vs. family dictating where and with whom can I go) have I spent time with random strangers that cross my path? I’ve actually kept track and in each case we were not strangers for long as our energy vibrates us together for a reason and we become great friends. One of those cool vibrations came in January at MissBellydance.com’s storefront in Atlanta, Ga. In between the classes held there and hosted by AFBD (inclusive of a cool class hosted by Mimi) I met Adeola, a fellow Nigerian-American who is known for her amazing dinner parties.
I spoke to her about the incredible events she hosts every month. These dinner parties feature not just Nigerian food, but international fare that brings invitees from everywhere eager to dig in and devour! Just looking at the items on her Instagram account were enough to send me into a foodie Utopia! You can’t beat this. Beyond her food, Adeola really embodies what it means to be first-gen. She is a role-model to us in the international community as we stay firmly connected with our parents’ culture while living and thriving stateside.
Andinha: Why dinners, Adeola? What is it about the dinner table that inspired you to do this vs. a dance show, movie nights or other things to celebrate cultures?
Adeola: My inspiration for the dinners come from looking for a way to stay
connected with friends and family. Growing up, my family entertained
all the time. Once I moved out and had my own place, I found myself
getting busy with work and only catching up with people via social
media. I think on personal level food brings comfort – something that
every individual seeks. Doing the dinners was a way to not only reconnect with
meaningful conversations but a way share great food too!
Andinha: Wow, with that, what was your favourite dinner party thus far? Which one did you really enjoy the most?
Adeola: My favorite dinner thus far was definitely the Louisiana themed
Mardi Gras Masquerade. I was really nervous at first when it came as a
suggestion from the previous party because items like seafood gumbo
and etoufee are closely guarded and everyone has a family member that
makes it “the best”. However, once I gave it a try I realized I could
put my own spin on it and it still be good. Plus, everyone put on
their favorite mask and dressed up in costume. I’m also really excited
about the next dinner coming up for Black History Month. The food with
feature items inspired by West African, Afro-Caribbean, and African
Andinha: In order to be a successful cook, I feel one has to have some sort of background or base from which to start. You’re clearly doing very well and guests are eager for every party. Did you go to a cooking school or learn from family?
Adeola: I learned to cook from family – primarily from my Aunt (may her
soul rest in peace) who was an avid cook. She put so much effort into
making things taste as good as they looked. She had a fiery
personality but a very warm spirit.
Andinha: So, of all the things you cook, which one is your favourite?
Adeola: Funny enough there isn’t one specific dish that I enjoy the most;
however Jollof Rice is definitely something I’ve made 100 times over. Jollof Rice – its one of the first things I learned to make. It is also a common staple in many West African homes that I think the world should come to know and enjoy. I really like the art/challenge of taking on new dishes I haven’t made before.
Andinha: Wow, so in many ways you’re giving guests a really special experience. This is your discovery of some great cuisine as well. What else do you want your guests to walk away with?
Adeola: I want people to leave each party with a good memory – whether it
was a dish, or a joke that make them laugh, I want people to associate
the dinner parties with having a good time. I want people to see that traditional food from Nigeria (or any African country for that matter) is approachable and that many aspect of our rich culture centers around sharing a good meal. I think there
are a lot of misconceptions about Nigerian food – too spicy, too
different or “out there”. However, every culture has something that is
outlandish so why not have an open mind? You will probably find five
or so dishes that you actually enjoy more than your native food.
Andinha: I agree 100% on wanting people to see that our food is approachable and to remove misconceptions. Thank you for leading in this area. You’ve really enhanced or “taken dinner parties up a notch!” Do you think you’ll continue doing these for a few years? So much work goes into this.
Adeola: I will continue to do the dinner parties as long as it still is
enjoyable to me and to the people that attend. I get questions all the
time about how people can get invited to the next party so I think it
may keep going for a while 🙂
Andinha: I look forward to blogging about the events and highlighting your amazing contribution to tearing down stereotypes, uplifting cultures and bridging gaps. Your work deserves not just a YouTube channel but an entire show on a cooking network. That’s my wish for you! The world needs to know how amazing you are!
From MissBellydance.com: Special thanks to Adeola for agreeing to be featured! We look forward to highlighting her work and perhaps sponsoring a few dishes. We’ll report back on what fantastic work she does with Turkish cuisine! Follow her @yolaskitchen on IG!
Thanks for reading!