Tell us about your background and relationship with food growing up?
I was born in NYC to Nigerian parents and grew up in St. Albans, Queens, a predominately Caribbean neighborhood. My community was Black and diverse — Nigerians, Black Americans, Trinidadians, Haitians — so the diaspora was always very obvious to me. Nigerian meat pies reminded me of Jamaican beef patties. Haitian black rice felt like jollof rice. And I loved it all!
My parents cooked most of our food from scratch. Saturday was for shopping, so my siblings and I would follow our parents to the African stores, fish & meat markets, and my favorite, Costco. Sunday was for cooking — sauteed aromatics, long stews, cut-up pieces of meat stolen from the oven. I loved the process & science behind cooking. For a while, I wanted to be a chef. Instead, I quenched that urge by studying chemical engineering in college (lol). I was also an avid Food Network fan — Rachel Ray has my heart to this day. But, I always thought it was strange that no one on TV was talking about all the delicious things I was eating at home and in my community.
How would you describe your food philosophy and the type of food you create and seek out now?
Above all, I prioritize taste. I don’t care how beautiful or nutritious a plate is, if it’s gross, I don’t want it! Life is too short to eat bland food. Outside of that, I’m quite non-restrictive with food. I appreciate a thoughtful plate with a story behind it as much as something quick and tasty thrown together that satisfies a craving.
What inspired you to launch Adá Supper Club and now Adá Experiences?
I attended a supper club event in 2019 that I thought was poorly organized. Throughout the event, the organizers kept referencing Black artists, but no one Black was actually benefitting from the proceeds as far as I could tell. I thought, “I can do this way better”. So, I became obsessed with the idea of building a brand that highlighted undercelebrated chefs.
I hosted a few supper club events before the pandemic hit, after which I pivoted to delivery. Eventually, companies began to reach out asking us to host virtual events for their newly remote teams. This made me think that perhaps there’s a “there” there. As I continued hosting these corporate experiences, I learned more about what companies were looking for. I also learned more about the challenges that Black chefs & culinary creators face. And as the pain points became clearer, potential solutions took over my mind space. In 2022, I officially left my job to build Adá full-time.
What have been the biggest challenges in founding and building your business?
Building a business is funny because there’s a lot of “faking it until you make it” going on. You have to communicate a big enough vision to gain traction, but you also have no idea whether your assumptions underpinning that vision are true. The balance between confidently pitching & acknowledging the gaps has been a challenge for me.
Also, the tech world is built on hype. It’s easy to get caught up in the new shiny thing. Avoiding that noise & focusing on my own path is another challenge.
Where do you get your energy and support to persevere?
Certain routines really help me keep things in perspective, like journaling, eating whole & delicious food, and spending time with loved ones without discussing work. As a recovering perfectionist, I’m learning to not feel guilty about rest, so I incorporate rest heavily throughout my life as well.
How can the Furthermore community support you?
Book an experience on our marketplace for your next team event! www.withada.co. Or, give us some feedback about your experience of our site.