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Interview: Chef Ette Assam CEO 8tte Barbeque & Grills
A. My name is Ette Assam popularly known as chef 8tte. I am from Akwa Ibom, Eket local government. I have been a chef for the past 19 years, I am a barbeque chef. We have pit masters, grill masters and barbeque chefs, am a barbeque chef. I do everything on the grill and barbeque.
Q. What is the name of your company and what services do you provide?
A. The name of my company is 8tte Barbeque and Grills. We basically do small chops, finger foods, grills and we do cocktails as well.
Q. How long have you been in this business?
A. I have been in the business of killing chicken, goat and grilling for the past 19 years, also been serving drinks and making people happy for the past 15 years.
Q. What inspired you into this profession?
A. First of all, It sounds funny but I tell people the first thing that inspired me was hunger, I was hungry. Actually what really inspired me was first, it was a hobby before it became a business, it was a survival for me because that was what I used in training myself through school, I started catering for parties in school, student union parties, shows, until I got to the level where I started building capacities where I could now cater for politicians, house of Rep members and by the grace of God few governors.
Q. What makes a good grilling chef?
A. First, you must know your onions, the basics of grilling, barbeque and you must always have balance. I found out that most people do things just because they want to do it, like I said earlier I started with survival but as time went on I started doing researches, I started doing my own spices, had my own marinades, anywhere you taste my grill you will know it’s me because I have learnt to balance my consistency in cooking.
Q. Tell us about an accomplishment that shaped your career?
A. That was when popular, renowned Grammy award & BET award winner, musician extraordinaire MR AKON ate my barbeque that was when the whole story changed. Akon brought new life into my game, then Nigerians started believing in me because someone outside had certified me as being up to international level.
Q. Who are your target market?
A. My target market are people who appreciate good food, people who know the value of good food and also people who can afford to pay for good food those are my target market. I don’t want to say I cater for the high and mighty but I cater for people who know good food and can afford to pay for it.
Q. What is your billing like?
A. My billing is affordable, when I started I started with survival but I found out that I should have a purpose why I am doing this, good foods are not easy to come by so when people say my billings are high I tell them 19 years of my life I have been doing this and it’s not a day job. Though to some people my billing is moderate and to others high but basically I charge moderate.
Q. Tell us about the project that motivated you to be innovative and creative?
A. Basically, one of the projects that motivated me was actually the one i lost, a job for the former governor of cross river state, HIS EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR DONALD DUKE. I had been shortlisted already but at the end of the day I wasn’t contracted to do the job, according to them i did not have the capacity so they felt I couldn’t meet up to the caliber of people coming for the event. I was touched, because I had put in all my best. So I had to go back and ask myself, why they bring people from Lagos, because they had to contract a caterer from Lagos to cater for the event. What do these caterers do differently that give them an edge? So i started working hard ,doing researches, improved myself, went for entrepreneurial classes, did some self and company re-branding, I had to register with CAC, pay tax because they contributed to why I couldn’t get those kind of jobs.
Q. How do you meet your client?
A. I don’t meet clients, clients meet me. Then it used to be one on one, thank God for social media, high profile clients we have worked and working for presently are through social media mainly Instagram.
Q. What do you think differentiates you from others?
A. My style, but not only that my aroma too, because the combination of spices I put into the meat and how its prepared must drive you to my stand, it’s just my style of cooking. Even if you don’t eat it, you would ask.
Q. Where do you see your company in years to come?
A. Chef 8tte vision is big. We are looking at having our own TV show, it’s going to be called meat and grill with chef 8tte. We see us branding our own sauces, marinades and dry rubs.
Q. What are your most cherished moments in this business?
A. When I discover new recipes, I cherish it a lot, if I could marry my recipe I would have given birth to two or three children called recipe.
Q. Any regrets so far?
A. No regrets, like I said I follow my vision. I want to make people happy by cooking good food. I have never turned back for the past 19 years .I have never seen myself saying “oh no you need to stop this and get a 9 to 5 or you need to do something else”. I have never regretted what I am doing.
Q. Any award so far?
A. Yes. I have been given lots of awards from different NGOs, former governor of cross river state, university of Calabar and some organizations as outstanding chef.
Q. Apart from being a chef what else do you do?
A. I play basketball and dance a lot that is one thing people don’t know about me.
Q. Who are your role models?
A. Chef Bobby flay he is a chef and a barbeque guru, Pit master Paul Kirk, Pit master Aaron Franklyn, Chef Goddo-Ramsay.
Q. Who are your mentors?
A. May his soul rest in peace his name is Ben Solomon he was my first mentor, he was the one that gave me insight and knowledge about business, he was my landlord during and after school, later became my friend and mentor. My second mentor is Pastor Oseh of the book church in Calabar, he is the one mentoring me now and brotherhood of grills, we call ourselves the brotherhood of the rings, the barbeque rings.
Q. With your business schedule how do you unwind?
A. People ask me do you go for parties and am like I party more than anybody because am always at the heart beat of the party, the only thing I don’t do is seat down but I basically take part in everything they do. So grilling for events is how I unwind.
Q. What is your slogan or philosophy?
A. There is nothing like hard work, hard work is the key
Q. What is your mission and vision statement?
A. My vision is to see 8tte barbeque and cocktail global, my mission is to make people happy by cooking good grills.
Q. What are your social media handle?