Feelings of Home: Chef Nadia of Little Kitchen
The most spectacular thing about working with so many different local chefs is that they come with different experiences, backgrounds, and have so many different approaches to a vast array of cuisines. We reached out to Nadia Ogbor to talk about her growth in New Orleans and what makes community so important.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I started doing Little Kitchen because I really love cooking (and eating!). The way a good meal brings people together is such a simple and particular joy. I think I was just trying to find a way to play a more active and creative part in cultivating that joy and I wanted to do it on my own terms.
I think I was just trying to find a way to play a more active and creative part in cultivating that joy and I wanted to do it on my own terms
What were you doing before starting Little Kitchen?
When I picked up my first pop-up gigs, I was working for some dope chefs at St Roch Market. I started with Chef Tunde Wey at Lagos and later worked with Chef Rita Bernhardt, when she was focusing on the PDR Nola. I really learned a lot from both of them. Tunde gave me an opportunity to emerge myself in Nigerian cooking which is close to my heart and my roots. And working for Rita definitely pushed me to explore my own culinary endeavors. She’s a young woman chef at the top of her game and watching her work to achieve that was super motivating for me!
What's your favorite menu item to make?
One of my all time favorite things to cook is Ata Din Din. It’s a Nigerian fried habanero, bell pepper & tomato sauce that’s cooked with fermented locust beans, crayfish spice and red palm oil. I love to stew chicken in it and serve it over Jollof rice. Or make tacos out of it and serve it with a spicy plantain salsa! When it hits right, it has a nostalgic effect for me that I’m in totally in love with.
What was the last thing that you ate that you really liked?
I was in Mexico for my birthday this year and I had a type of molé that was new to me. I found it at a market in Cholula, Puebla bubbling away with 6 other thick sauces in clay pots set over open fire. The one I chose, called Pepian Rojo, was made from sesame seeds, peanuts, tomatoes, avocados and dried chilies. I had it served over rice and beef and it was fully an experience.
What's your favorite snack?
Does fried chicken count as a snack?
Do you have any new items you're working on?
I’m working on my fermentation game! Some of my favorite flavors are achieved through fermentation and I would really like to incorporate more of my own, self-fermented product into my repertoire. When I was working in Denali, Alaska last summer, I didn’t have access to a kitchen, which was hard for me. However, I did have access to vegetables and salt, so I started playing around with some krauts and kimchis. It’s so fun to tend each jar as the veggies do their thing and watch transformations take place..
What are driving values behind Little Kitchen?
I’d say one of Little Kitchen’s goals is to be a low-key, colorful, delicious aspect of any community I’m involved in. I want to continue to bring what I do to spaces and events with other artists, musicians, chefs, collaborators and the like. I’m very thankful to have had so many people allow me a space to share my food. If ever I find myself in the position to provide that for others, I intend to do so!
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurial woman out there?
I know it’s corny, but I’m realizing that as long as what I’m doing still makes me happy (and I’m still doing that little dance when my salsa tastes super good) people will respond in kind. Be in love with whatever it is you’re trying to share with the world and people will pick up on that energy!