Graving western African food in Montgomery county but you can’t find an African restaurant, Afrobouffe is here to solve that problem.
Starting a business this century is a matter of an idea, planning and execution. I had the honor to speak with a food entrepreneur with no restaurant location but is able to use her passion for cooking to make some extra cash. I present to you Diane the Executive Chef of Afrobouffe a West African Cuisine.
Blaq Pearl: It's really a pleasure that you have agree to do this. Ok lets start by introducing you.
Diane Afrobouffe: my name is Diane Atsu. I am 24 years old. I was born in Ivory Coast to a Togolese father and Beninese mother. I moved to the United States when I was 14 with my sisters.I am currently in college studying Hospitality Managements .
Blaq Pearl: I also know you are an entrepreneur in what area do you specialise in and what made you go in that direction?
Diane Afrobouffe: Yes I am a food entrepreneur. I am the owner of Afrobouffe, a food delivery/pickup service that specializes in West African Cuisine. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit in me since a young age. I remember back in Ivory Coast, I was about 10 when I started selling, from toffee candies to bracelets and earrings in school and it was always a success. My mother used to own a restaurant and it was always exciting for me to help her with the prep. After moving to the United States, I always found myself in the kitchen making something and it was always a hit. I was going to school and working part time in a busy restaurant and that is when the idea came to me: “Why don’t I start a West African food business?” And just like that, Afrobouffe was born.
Blaq Pearl: Wow that's awesome. So how does it work, since your restaurant location is virtual?
Diane Afrobouffe: Since it’s a virtual restaurant, I rely a lot on social media platforms such as Facebook, instagram, etc.. I also meet a number of people daily so I have the chance to talk about my business. There is also a lot of Word-of-mouth marketing because most of my customers have been recommended by a friend of a friend.
Blaq Pearl: How is the order process and delivery?
Diane Afrobouffe: I accept orders through direct messages on Instagram or Facebook. I also have a website afrobouffekitchen.com where there is the full menu and contact to order. I also have an email email@example.com to place orders
Blaq Pearl: How does it feel to be in the middle of 3 cultures?Actually 4 since you live in the US now?
Diane Afrobouffe: I love my cultural background because I feel l can integrate in each one of them. It can be challenging at times because when asked where I am from I don’t feel like just saying one country. But I believe having 4 cultures make me who I am and gave me the drive to start a West African food business because I have had the chance to taste so many different foods. And they are very different, yet similar.
Blaq Pearl: What are some of the pro and cons of been multicultural?
Diane Afrobouffe: Being multicultural definitely makes me more open minded to other cultures. I love meeting new people and having that cultural background helps me understand and respect other people’s cultures too. Also the food! Growing up I’ve tasted so many foods that my mother and even my father used to make, and yes the street food in Abidjan were limitless. I love the versatility and that international feeling lol. The cons of being multicultural have been dialect language barrier. French is the language I’ve always spoken until I move to the states and learned English. It becomes a problem when around my father or mother family side, I cannot speak any dialect with them. Being multicultural, it can feel like I don’t belong to any cultures and I do feel out of place at times
Blaq Pearl: What about here in America. What are of the issues you encounter when you got here at such young age?
Diane Afrobouffe: One of the challenges I faced when coming here was the language barrier. I was put in 8th grade, the last year in middle school which was one year behind the grade level I came in. I had to learn to speak English and I remember in class, some students used to make fun of me. I did not have a problem making friends since I’d befriended some ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) students but still, I was not comfortable speaking English in public. I used to read a lot and spent a lot of time watching movies to improve my listening and reading skills. I also had to learn to adapt to everything else, the culture, the food, and the cold weather.
Blaq Pearl: What about integration in school work and society in general ?
Diane Afrobouffe: I got my first job at 17 as a cashier at a grocery store. At the time I was already able to have a decent conversation with anyone but working there tremendously helped me improve not only my English but 4 my social skills.
Blaq Pearl: Where so you get your products to cook your foods?
Diane Afrobouffe: I mostly buy my products at African/Caribbean stores and Farmers Markets.
Blaq Pearl: How do you manage school and your business?
Diane Afrobouffe: It can be hard, managing school, work, and my business but what helps me is proper time management and organization. I have a calendar that I follow that helps me keep on track of future assignments and everything that needs to be done throughout the day. Another thing that helps me is regular exercise, whether it is going to the gym in the morning or going for a quick run. It helps me stay calm and better deal with stress otherwise it’s easy to lose it.
Blaq Pearl: What advice can you give anybody who will want to follow your footsteps?
Diane Afrobouffe: I am not there yet but everyday I wake up and do something that will help me be where I want to be in the future while living in the moment. We all have lazy days and that’s ok but what I have come to realize is that success is not for the lazy. And that’s what I live by.
Blaq Pearl: I really appreciate you time. Any word of advice for the readers?
Diane Afrobouffe: Whatever you envision, don’t wait until tomorrow or next month to start working on it. Don’t let life pass by waiting for the “right moment” because there isn’t. Also don’t forget to check out Afrobouffe on instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!