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Community Spotlight –Victoria Idowu (Chef Vickz)

By Frankie Fitch-Bunce

Victoria Idowu also known as Chef Vickz, is a private chef working for 5 years in the industry. Victoria currently works for Stormzy, but in the past, she has worked for other celebrities and sports stars like Michael Dapaah, Dave, as well as with duo Krept and Konan for their Crepes and Cones restaurant. Also running supper clubs, Victoria’s ethos is ‘creating memories one meal at a time’, honouring the love that comes from enjoying a meal together.

Frankie: What does a typical day look like for you?

Victoria: At the moment I have one full time client. I wake up, plan the menu, go shopping, cook food, and come home depending on if I have an afternoon or evening client, then repeat, repeat, repeat every day. Literally.

F: Do your clients tell you what recipes they want?

V: So I’m Stormzy’s personal chef. With him, it depends on if he’s training or, like right now, if he’s on tour. Right now, he can only have a certain type of food because he’s like an athlete- he’s on stage. So I have to work with his nutritionist and make sure that his meals are a certain way. When he’s not doing such intense training, it’s kind of relaxed. I get free rein and I know what he likes, what he doesn’t like. If I have bookings for occasions or just random clients, they tell me what they want, or I’m open to suggestions and create a menu for them. They tell me what they like, what they don’t like, If I could do this or if I can’t do that.

F: What’s Stormzy’s favourite food?

V: Right now he really likes beef short rib. I make this slow cooked short rib sandwich with cheese. That’s his thing.

F: Yum! Do you have a favourite memory from working as a personal chef?

V: Last year I cooked for a client on a really special occasion. There were 15 women and it was amazing to see these beautiful black women all in the same room celebrating. That turned into another referral to another referral and then a fourth referral. It’s the best memory for me because that’s the reason why I want to cook. I feel like there’s something to be said about sitting around a table with food, around your people just chopping it up and enjoying the food and creating that moment again and again. For someone to trust me… the way I am with food, I love all kinds of food, but I’m so picky. It’s so humbling for someone to want little old me to come into their homes and cook them food again and again. That for me is the best memory because it’s like, wow, you really trust me to come and cook your food, not just for you, but for all of the people that you hold dear in your life. It’s just humbling.

F: Yeah, that must be. I saw you have a motto of creating memories one meal at time. When you’re organising meals for friends and family, do you have a signature dish that you go to or a favourite ingredient?

V: If you ask my friends, they’ll tell you ‘all she likes is seafood’. Which is true. I don’t eat red meat anymore, so that’s why. But I don’t have a favourite dish. I just love food, all kinds of food. I just love food.

Someone once said to me that apart from allergies, it’s not that you don’t like food, you just don’t like the way it’s prepared. I used to think that was rubbish. But I’m kind of realising that it’s actually true. Someone could prepare a certain dish nine ways and I hate it, then the tenth I’ll absolutely love it. And that’s the way I now see food. Some people don’t like one certain dish, they just need to have it in a different way.

F: Can you name the perks and the drawbacks of the job?

V: You have to show up. Someone’s relying on you for food. Showing up, even when you don’t feel great. It’s not a job where you can work from home. You have to show up regardless. When you don’t feel great within yourself or you’re having a bad day, you kind of have to push that aside. And you can tell from my food that l don’t feel good. You can absolutely tell. The way I feel affects the way I cook. So it’s just kind of separating that to make sure that the love is still there in food. Yeah, that’s the most challenging part of cooking.

F: Do you have any perks that you can name?

V: It’s being creative. Honestly, I absolutely adore my job. I love it, and I like the fact that he just lets me be creative and to introduce him to food. He’s very honest. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it, he won’t eat it. And it’s just really humbling that someone trusts you enough. It’s amazing to be creative. Different foods every day, different styles. It’s glorious, really.

F: Do you have a piece of advice that you would give your younger self at the beginning of your career?

V: Start earlier. And not even just that, because you can actually start any time. There’s no time limit to do what you want to do, but just have confidence in yourself. There’s so many times I just feel like… Am I good enough? Am I great? You second guess yourself. What I tell myself is just keep going, have consistency, keep persevering because it will work out for you. Even when sometimes you feel like it won’t, just keep pushing because God didn’t give me all this talent and all this passion for food for it not to work out. I’m a firm believer that there’s purpose in my cooking and not just to give someone sustenance, it gives people so much more.

F: That’s a great piece of advice. Do you have an inspiration or role model that you can name?

V: Do you know what? I have a few. Funnily enough, where I went to study food, Lorraine Pascale actually studied there. My tutor at the time was her classmate. So that was humbling for me, seeing a black woman do what I want to do. She doesn’t do food anymore which is quite sad, but still she was one of my first role models because I wanted to be able to see myself in my career. I wanted to see someone that’s done it before me so it makes me feel like I can do it too. In terms of just pure artistry- there’s so many different ones. Heston Blumenthal. How he mixes science and food is absolutely insane. His level of creativity blows my mind! There’s one more. He’s a pastry chef. He’s French, and his name is Amaury Guichon. He’s got a show on Netflix and his chocolate work is incredible. What he can make with food blows my mind.

F: Where did you study?

V: University of West London. It was really good, and even gave me the Kickstarter like yeah, you can really do it. In my first year one of my modules was bread and we had to make our own recipes of two different types of bread, whatever flavour, whatever you wanted to make. I remember making mine and then my tutor coming around for my assessment and she tasted it. She was like, Oh my gosh! She was so surprised by how it tasted. I remember vividly, since that lesson, she looked at me completely differently, like I had potential, and then she ended up putting me forward for an award that I ended up winning- it was crazy! The award was ‘student with the highest level of practical skill’ because she was so amazed by that lesson. That gave me the confidence to see, yeah, I can really do this because she could notice it in me just from making bread. Then I knew I could really do this.

F: Do you have a favourite place to eat out in London when you go out?

V: I know I’ve got two that I really love. There’s a place in Clapham called Sunami, it’s pan-Asian and it’s incredible. It’s not like a really big fancy restaurant, it’s kind of small, but it’s good food. Then there’s a French restaurant in Piccadilly Circus- it’s called Brasserie Zédel. The food is insane. Those are my 2 favourite places that I could go to again and again.

F: The future of hospitality is… 

V: Black!


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