Member Spotlight: Chuku’s


A heaping plate of food is the epitome of Nigerian hospitality.

A core part of any social function, making food, serving food and eating food is indicative of the Nigerian community spirit. Now with a population of over 200 million and 371 different ethnic groups, that heaping plate of food is an undeniable smorgasbord of salivating snacks. Broad in its variety, rich in its heritage, Nigerian cuisine speaks to a culture of sharing, a culture of breadth and a culture of community and that is everything that sibling duo Emeka and Ifeyinwa embody with their restaurant Chuku’s. What began as a passing suggestion before uni, has become a cultural hub of Tottenham, showcasing the beauty of Nigerian cuisine and
culture. They might have started small, grateful for when those likes creeped past 10 so that it switched to ‘and others’ rather than showing individual names, but there is no denying that they have soared high. From their successful #SixWeekCharge campaign to secure the future of the business, to winning a grant from the BeyGOOD foundation; from innovative supperclubs, to providing platforms for Nigerian authors, Emeka and Ifeyinwa have created a space where their culture can be enjoyed, celebrated and appreciated.

Chuku’s is not just about the food, it’s also about the culture. Whilst the two are inextricably connected, the chance to showcase their culture through food was something that Emeka and Ifeyinwa felt was seriously lacking growing up. ‘We had a diverse group of friends growing up and there was always the opportunity to go to their parties at various restaurants and enjoy their culture and their food. Yet it never really felt like we had the opportunity to do the same. It wasn’t that there weren’t Nigerian restaurants in London but it’s not just about the food it’s about the culture.’ It was this desire to showcase the culture beyond the Nigerian diaspora that fuelled the creation of Chuku’s. As Emeka notes, it’s not that Nigerian restaurants were missing, but many of those restaurants were in predominantly Nigerian communities. This inward facing model inadvertently limited the accessibility of Nigerian food to the wider community and for Emeka and Ifeyinwa, this needed to change. ‘The Nigerian restaurants in London are in pockets where there’s a really large Nigerian diaspora and they’re pretty inward looking in terms of ‘this is the food to serve the diaspora’ rather than ‘this is also an option in areas of the city where people flock to eat or shop.’’

The key word here is ‘option.’ Whilst Nigerian restaurants may not have been far and few between, their image as viable options was undeniably limited due to their somewhat insular positioning. ‘It wasn’t that it wasn’t available before, it’s that it wasn’t easily accessible and accessibility is about the prevalence and the number of establishments. If you compare it to Thai or Indian food, then yes it was definitely low, but it’s also about proximity to where someone lives or frequents and that in particular was not where it needed to be. Even with the number of Nigerian restaurants that there were, they weren’t in areas where people are stumbling out of a club and deciding to get some food after a night out.’


This astute observation ensured that Emeka and Ifeyinwa’s focus was that of inside out, not the outside in. Their reverence and respect for Nigerian cuisine fuels their dedication to show it to the world and through their determination to challenge this notion of insolation, the dynamic sibling duo have made Chuku’s a beacon for Nigerian food; an innovative hub in Tottenham, inviting the world in to experience and explore Nigerian cuisine and culture.

This invitational spirit is also embodied in the way in which they serve food. Nigerian tapas is not a phrase that one hears often, but at the heart of these small plates is the notion of sharing. ‘It’s really about the sharing, not about the size but the fact that the food is to share. It also comes back to accessibility. If you don’t know something, maybe you don’t want to choose just one dish, especially when you don’t really know anything about the cuisine. But when you have a better variety of flavours on the plate or on the table, then you’re more than likely going to like a couple of things there. But I think importantly for ourselves, and I say that as custodians of Nigerian cuisine and culture, we wanted to ensure that people didn’t write it off.

If you go to a restaurant and have one dish which you hate, that’s it. You can say ‘I’ve tried Nigerian food and I don’t like that.’ With small plates, when people have the option to try seven dishes and they like five, they don’t then go away saying they don’t like Nigerian food. They go away educated and able to say ‘I like these fi ve fl avours of Nigerian food’ which I think is common for a lot of cuisines.’ Moreover, small plates allows the freedom to show the diversity of Nigerian culture. ‘This is a country of 200 odd million, over 300 different ethnic groups and 500 different languages. Whilst we can’t pay due respect to all of those in our short, 15/16 plate menu. What we can try to offer is a demonstration of the different regions and different culinary options that there are in the country.’

This innovative approach to not just showcasing, but sharing their culture is not surprising from a pair who embody innovation. In 2022 Chuku’s, like so many within the industry, was struggling. But from that struggle came the determination to fight and that fight created their #SixWeekCharge. What began with a refreshingly candid video on Instagram, soon exploded across the world. Turning to their community, Emeka and Ifeyinwa sought to achieve 600 bookings in six weeks to help keep their doors open for 2023. Within mere days, news of their campaign had spread from Nigeria to Sierra Leone, from Australia to Bermuda and within those six weeks they achieved an undeniably impressive 801 bookings. Whilst this stands as a testament to their creativity, their originality and their willingness to adapt to survive, it also speaks to the strength of the community that they had built; a community that would not let them down.


‘In February 2020 we opened our restaurant to lots of fanfare as we’d built up a good customer base. We were open for four and a half weeks then lockdown hit. Lockdown was one element of the difficulty, but the industry post-lockdown was so different and the challenges were crazy. We really struggled, we didn’t have the momentum like when we first opened, we didn’t have the foundation of a customer base or savings that would have built up had we been open 18 months before going into lockdown. We had been sapped energy wise and we were trying to build a team, build the business and keep ourselves afloat. It was a crazy time and we were struggling to the point where, through no fault of our own, we weren’t going to make it into 2023. We’d put in a lot of effort but the winds weren’t in our favour, so we tried to turn them back. It was a last ditch attempt to get something together and we thought, we’ve had the support of the community before, in terms of their patronage, that’s all we’re asking for now. We had a target of 600 that we didn’t necessarily think we would hit but even if we only got 450 that would still have been a big jump from where we were. We thought we would have run dry by week six but the response was mind blowing.

This last ditch attempt proved to be a massive success and much needed recharge to catapult Chuku’s into 2023 with a bang. And that bang didn’t end there. In 2023, Chuku’s won a $10,000 grant from Beyonce’s charity, the BeyGOOD Foundation. ‘The foundation, were supporting black businesses in the cities in which she was doing her world tour and providing a grant of $100k for 10 businesses. We made an application which highlighted what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we were doing it. The culture, the community, the cuisines and also the challenges and what we had had to do in terms of the #SixWeekCharge to keep us open. My sister went to the luncheon as only one founder was allowed to go. She was sitting there in the room with all these other amazing, well-deserving black-owned businesses from all different sectors just enjoying the occasions. And then she heard her name. She didn’t think it was her name at first because it was said in an American accent so she just continued clapping for whoever she thought had won before realising it was us!’

Chuku’s is an invitation. A warm, genuine smile at the door that guides you to your seat, asks you about your day and shares something heartfelt and in so doing, it embodies Nigerian hospitality. Emeka and Ifeyinwa have done something truly remarkable, they’ve taken up space and put down roots and with hopes to soon open a second location, those roots are stretching to pastures new. Roots from which new ideas, new interactions and new appreciation for Nigeria can grow.

Find out more about Chuku’s and follow their journey here.

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