Kemi Omiyale: Catering with a Difference

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Kemi Omiyale

For Chief Executive Officer, RAKEM Catering Services, Kemi Omiyale, her hobby is cooking and she does so with ease. As an entrepreneur, turning her cooking skills into a business venture wasn’t an easy task. In this interview, she regaled Ayodeji Ake on how she stepped out of her comfort zone and overcame such challenges

Kemi Omiyale is the Chief Executive Officer, RAKEM Catering Services. Her love for cooking started in her formative years. Reminiscing on how she spent her formative years, one could easily pick her enthusiasm for cooking.

Cooking for her is as simple as reciting the alphabetic letters even when sleeping. Three decades ago she became uncomfortable cooking for her immediate family and friends alone. She chose to explore, which made her enrol in a catering school and did some catering courses.

After the successful completion of her catering training courses, Omiyale’s dream was to establish her catering services but the reverse was the case as it took her over a decade to put resources together. While waiting for her dream to materialise, she worked as a chef in different organisations. Her catering training not only distinguished her but also her unquenchable passion for cooking was her unique selling point.

“I think what has been working for me is my passion for cooking. I had passion for cooking right from day one. I have been into catering for the past 32years and I have never gotten tired of cooking, in fact, I derive joy in cooking. Cooking for the house is different from cooking a big garden food because the measurement differs, there has to be an accurate measurement or you get it all wrong.

“Party food is very different from house rice, because the ingredients that will be included in a party jollof rice cannot be included in house concoction rice, even different from eatery rice, the taste, the colour. Well I have not been on my own for the past 10 years, I started my own catering company 15years ago. Initially I started my catering from Ikoyi Hotel. I went to their catering school and started working with them, when I left the place, I worked with another company in Victoria Island” she said.

Despite working for giant organisations, Omiyale saw the need to start her catering service. Garnering knowledge and experiences from her work places made her little company grow when those familiar with her delicious meal started patronising her for their events.

When she started her company it wasn’t as successful as she thought, then she left her business and went job hunting. After five years of gathering momentum, she came back to her business, rebranded and repackaged.

“When I started, it got to an extent I was tensed about the work so I dropped it, then later I went for a catering outreach at Intercontinental Bank, I was there for about five years and when they closed up the bank I had to start the catering properly. I had to put a whole lot of things in order, getting banners, card and others to start from there. God has been so wonderful to me anyway because for the past 15years I have been on my own , I have no cause to regret” she said.

As a entrepreneur who runs a catering service that offers indoor, outdoor, and 24hours kitchen services, Omiyale’s business also faces chellenges but her committed passion for cooking scales her through.

Omiyale lamented that one of the issues faced by caterers is inflation. She explained that when prices of commodities are inflated, cateres hardly make profit because their customers insist on usual prices regardless of inflation.

”I have been into catering for the past 32years and the challenges however emerge when prices of ingredients are inflated, we don’t get much, but when cost of things are okay, then we can be able to satisfy customers. Government need to do much for us, for instance shutting the border against importation of goods such as rice and other things are affecting us, if they can. Truly, there is a huge difference as regards profit in the the previous and present rule.

“The current administration is trying to stop the importation of rice totally which don’t happen in the past, makes it much easier for gaining of profit and commendable satisfaction of customers. The local rice is not too good for us, we have different type of rice, such as Ofada rice, Agric rice. These rice are not good for jollof rice and they are too dirty. If the economy is good, the business will move well” she said.

Speaking on the mobile kitchen concept, Omiyale said it’s a simple way of bring catering to one’s doorsteps. She explained it as a distinctive way of delivering differently in the competitive market.

“In RAKEM Catering Services, we are into indoor, outdoor catering services, we run 24hours and we have our kitchen at No 7 Morocco Road, that is our head office in Shomolu. We run parties and even a mobile kitchen. In the mobile kitchen, we entertain mostly weekend work, for small or big parties, any weekend at all, and we make sure every preparation is hygienic.

“We have buses that goes round, we have pick ups, we have luxurious buses that can move food from one place to another. We can take our mobile food down to any state at all, we have been to places like Port Harcourt, Jos, Ilorin, Ibadan, Osun, Ekiti to provide catering services” she said.

In her words of advice for young caterers, she urged them to be hardworking and portray honesty in all their doings to earn trust from patronisers and the sky will be their limit.

She said: “I wasn’t born with silver spoon in my mouth. I had to build up myself with determination, I was patient enough and always contented with what I have. My advice for the upcoming entrepreneur is to be honest, focused, diligent and hardworking because it is not all caterers that are honest with what they do. It is not about cooking for the whole country, let people know you for who you are, they will patronise you.”