You can catch Enu running home between lectures to prepare for a takeaway order that evenin or standing outside house parties or clubs, doing what she does best – cooking up a storm.
Studying for a Chemical Engineering Master's while keeping up with an ever-growing demand for her Afro-Caribbean fusion dishes isn’t easy, but there’s no doubt Enu will continue to grow her brand and business, Enudorm. Enudorm is Enu's catering stand and takeaway business that she runs alongside her manic university career. Enu is humble, but glows with determination.
Tell us about where it all started, your background, all that kinda stuff.
I’m the only girl in my household. I’ve got four brothers and my family are very ‘old school’. Nigerians love to say stuff like, “women belong in the kitchen” and “what are you going to cook for your husband?” So, doing all these things, I actually really hated it. I’d be playing outside with my brothers and my mum would be yelling at me, asking me to start opening cans or peeling potatoes. And I’m like, “why can’t my brothers do that? They’re outside kicking a ball”. And my mum would say to me, “you can’t go to your husband’s house without training and life skills”. From that, I took two things: anything a girl can do, a guy can also do – not better, but also do. And two, I’m gonna make sure my kids are trained equally, in everything, regardless of their sex. But also, I knew cooking was something I gravitated towards. I would watch a lot of cooking channels. Ready Steady Cook, Jamie Oliver – all the bait ones. That definitely sparked my interest. It was something I lost myself into.
Where do you get your Caribbean influence from?
I think it’s the influence of friends and culture, particularly from being in London. I’m from South East. I like to say I’m Pan Afro-Caribbean because I feel like there’s a strong place for us on the map where we need to own what we do. There’s nothing wrong with combining different cuisines, and people need to be exposed to it.
Where did EnuDorm start?
In Uni I lived in a 12-man house and I used to cook a lot, so my friends would gravitate towards me when it came to eating. When my student loan ran dry, we would scavenge through our fridges and freezers and cupboards, and think “what can we do with this?” My newfound sisters and I would always experiment with flavours and make something delicious out of nothing. I was living with a guy called Emmanuel and we would cook together sometimes. Okay – no, he would pay for the ingredients and I’d do the cooking, so kinda cooking together. Eventually, he asked me to do him some set meals, and he’d give me pay for it, so that’s how it steadily started. I decided to develop a brand out of that. ‘Enu’ means mouth in Yoruba, and ‘dorm’ is for dormitory. That’s when Enu was born, in my dormitory.
I had to get a license, do my certificates, get all the appropriate equipment. It’s been a steady thing. I’ve seen the growth in myself and it’s almost like seeing a child grow into an adult.
What’s your favourite thing on the menu?
Definitely my deep-fried Mac and Cheese balls. I love cheese. It’s just got this oozy, cheesy, crunchy… it’s a very good combination. I had some breadcrumbs leftover from making garlic prawns, and I had some Mac and Cheese leftover too so I coated and deep-fried them. My friend tried them and she was like, “this is a banger! It’s gonna win”. And to be fair, it does win. Or pounded yam. I’m a big lover of pounded yam.
How do you balance everything?
The secret is that you don’t sleep much – but you need to plan very well. I’m a lot more organised than I was before I started this. Before, I’d procrastinate a lot or just say “I’ll pencil that in”. Now I have to permanent marker it in. You can’t even be sick sometimes. But being organised definitely helps.
In terms of your business – what’s the plan?
The plan is to grow. We’re trying to open up a sort of café in the Union, maybe open a stall once a week or month or something like that and get something kicking. It’s very much still in the works. I’m gonna implement my degree into it. I’m gonna make something. Chemical Engineering is all about making things. I’m gonna try and make a food… item, or dish, something food-related. Lemme tell you, I’m saving.
Take a look at Enu’s culinary masterpieces and browse her menu at:
@enudorm (instagram, snapchat & twitter),
or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images: Varisha Ashraf