Slowly, Ghanas dining experience is taking a different twist with the growth of private chefs treating people with a pleasurable dining beyond that of the regular restaurant.
These chefs are effectively delivering private chef services to the hungry masses. Private chef services were a luxury once reserved for the ultra-rich but now almost anyone can afford one too.
Everything is prepared at your home or rental. No need to drive, just tuck the kids in bed and you are treated with good delicacies.
Business Insider Sub Saharan Africa caught up with one of Ghana’s most sought after private chef cooking for big personalities from all walks of life.
Briefly tell us who Victor Kojo Bequin is.
I grew up with my auntie in Tema in the greater Accra region and did high school at Chemu Secondary. I had a very interesting childhood because I played a lot and had good movie treats.
Like every child, I wanted to be all the things a child could fantasize. Interestingly enough I wanted to be pope when I was 5 years. I didn’t know why though!
I used to spend lots of time in my auntie’s kitchen trying to create my own recipes. Sometimes they were good other times I couldn’t even eat them myself.
The idea of my culinary journey was ignited at a very tender age. I remember I never missed episodes of cooking shows on TV.
It was relishing to see male chefs take over the shows to treat viewers with great and inviting delicacies.
And yes, I told myself that I wanted to do same.
How did it start?
Making a business out of my passion has been a life time journey. It is always a good idea to realize and efficiently turn your hobbies into a business. With that it doesn’t become a burden sort of. I started off waiting at various eateries. I enjoyed it for some time and I moved on to taking other cooking tasks in other hospitality outlets.
I got people requesting that I cook for them in their homes which I gladly did. I decided to concentrate on offering private chef services so I established my own business.
Establishing my own business meant that i would have room to explore and put premium on clients need rather than my boss.
What have been some of your high moments?
That was when I cooked for the king of the Ashanti kingdom. I was clueless as to who I was going to fix food for.
Apparently, it was a sweet ending but quite an unfriendly beginning. It was unfriendly because I was late for that particular appointment. It was Herbert Mensah’s step mother who bought my service so I thought I was going to fix something for her. I got there and she was like I am putting you on the next flight to Kumasi. I went speechless. But I ended up moving to Kumasi and I was still wondering where I was going, more importantly when I hadn’t stayed in Kumasi before. Honestly, I became scared.
Viola there I was in the Manhyia Palace and I was like, am I going to loose my head? Hahahaha! To cut the long story short, it wasn’t that scary. I met the Ashanti king Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and I realized I was going to be cooking for him. I was super excited. Otumfuo is really a great person.
I stayed there for a while. Whenever, the big names in Ghana came visiting the king, I was their chef.
I cooked for Ghana’s former president John Agyekum Kuffour, Nana Akufo Addo( Ghana’s current president, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumiah (Ghana’s veep) and Chief Sir Osawuru Igbinedion (Esama of Benin Kingdom, Nigerai).
I have also given good private chef services to some corporate executives.
Within the course of my work I met Dr. Eke Agbai who is very influential in Nigeria’s political space.
I moved to Nigeria in 2015 and he introduced me to Nigeria’s ex-president Olusangu Obasanjo and I fixed him some good food. In Nigeria I cooked for Prof Ndi Okereke Onyiuke (the then Chairperson of Transcorp and Director-General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange).
What have been some of the challenging moments?
Dealing huge personalities. I mean serving people that I just heard of them on radio or serve them on TV. I remember the first time I was serving wine to Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, it was quite intimidating. He is such a huge personality.
Also, private chefs are not just chefs but everything. You are the hostess, the server, the bartender, and the dishwasher. You have to be an entire restaurant staff squeezed into one person. Even when a dinner party is done, I will still clean the china and crystal, and put everything away. Sometimes, after I have been cooking for 10 or 12 hours, I still have to do two hours of breakdown and clean up by myself.
How are people embracing the idea of having a private chef?
The idea of hiring a private chef seems extravagant but it is still catching on. If you dine out regularly, it’s not so extravagant to hire a personal chef, because it will save you time, and perhaps even money. But well, it is all about convenience. No need to stress.
How much do you charge?
I wish I could tell you how much i charge. Apparently it depends on the package you opt for. I am actually a budget chef and anyone can afford me. The luxuries of having a personal chef are not reserved for the wealthy and famous. I don't break people's banks.
Aside being a private chef what do you do?
I run a catering service called . We provide quality service with a wide range of menu selections, food quality that will surpass the distinct taste of our client, well planned program and competent work force.
Are you engaged? You cook or she does?
Yes. She is also a great cook just that she finds herself at the corporate side of life. She is very careful with my food knowing that I can really appreciate good food.
What is your best advice for people who want to be chefs?
Dining is an experience beyond the food.You eat with your eyes first, and you can start experiencing a meal even before you have food in front of you. As a personal chef, you have to create ambiance in the dining room in addition to the work I do in the kitchen.
For example, when I am serving dinner to my clients, I love to put on music and light candles and really create a mood so that when clients come down, it is a beautiful environment that they walk into. This job is about more than just preparing food. It's about creating an experience.