Unlike some children who would prefer to stay away when their mothers are in the kitchen, Ngozi Tony-Iduh, a daughter of a caterer, preferred to help her mother whenever she was carrying out her services. As a result, she was able to master the steps involved in cooking, cake-baking, decoration, snacks, indoor and outdoor catering. She also didn’t hesitate to ask questions when necessary.
Her unrelenting efforts paved way for her success. Today, she is the Chief Executive Officer of 3K’s Confectionaries — which is into cakes, small chops, chin-chin and other snacks. She’s also into indoor and outdoor catering services and event management.
She described the profession as an inheritance from her mother. She noted that her late mother was a prominent caterer in Delta State. “As a child, I grew up seeing my mum bake. And while growing up, I assisted her during holidays. At 18, I took full charge of the business without supervision,” she said.
She stated that when she was a student at the IMT, Enugu, where she went for her Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and at the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, in Kwara State, where she obtained her Higher National Diploma (HND), she was always in charge of the catering services when students were having any party. “I didn’t charge them for the services. I rendered the services because of the passion I have for catering; they just provided the money for the ingredients.”
In this recent interview with Newswatch Times, Tony-Iduh said she never envisaged she would go into catering services. According to her, “I had actually looked forward to getting a white-collar job after school. I got married a week after my final year exams and my husband wanted me to teach. After I completed my Youth service, I knew I can’t survive being a teacher because I am not patient with children.”
Asked about the career she went into when she discovered she couldn’t be a teacher? She replied, “I was in the fashion industry, I designed male casual wears for my husband and his colleagues. My cousin trained me. Between 2003 and 2009, I was fully into the business.”
Why did she leave the fashion industry for the culinary business? She revealed that she wasn’t getting the desired satisfaction when she was in the fashion industry. “I was not getting job satisfaction. Also, most of my clients were my friends and family and I was indebted most of the time. So, I decided to go into the profession I have passion for.
“In 2010, I launched myself fully into my inheritance when I observed I get more demands for the service. When I left school, I still offered catering services on a part-time basis. Even as a fashion designer, I was still doing it. I had breakthrough in December 2009. I was contracted to cater for an end-of-the-year party for an insurance company. I got many referrals from the job I did for the company,” she said.
Having learnt the nitty-gritty of catering from her mum, she didn’t bother to go for any formal training again. But how does she improve her knowledge with the new developments in the industry? Tony-Iduh said, “I attended different catering seminars and workshops to learn new designs and crafts.”
She noted that the journey so far has been very good and interesting. While recollecting the challenges she had at the outset of her business, she said, “Getting recognised as a professional in the industry was the major challenge I had, but I was able to salvage the situation by giving our best and satisfying our clients’ need whenever we cater at any event. With time, people who had the opportunity of tasting our products patronized us and recommended us too.”
She reminisced that the most memorable event she catered and would never forget was the one that had royal fathers from Delta State in attendance. “I was so humbled when they disclosed they enjoyed my cooking. They prayed for me and blessed me.”
Tony-Iduh intends to establish a catering academy where she would train people willing to become professional caterers. In her words: “I want to establish an academy where I can pass my knowledge to people, because day by day, I get requests from people who want to train. So far so good, I have trained 12 people who are doing well on their own and currently, I have three trainees.”
She, however, advised coming caterers to attach themselves to a professional in the business. They should also learn the art and craft of catering before establishing themselves fully into the business. And should also make clients’ satisfaction their hallmark.