Set within the vibrant suburb of Morningside, Sandton is Kitchen Vibes a restaurant that is fast becoming an African culinary and cultural hotspot.
By: Liesl Frankson
Kitchen Vibes is on a quest to capture the taste of Africa and present it in a way that brings the African narrative to life. Jollof rice, Lamb hariri and road runner chicken are just some of the popular dishes you will find on the menu, each prepared by an authentically African chef.
“This is a pan-African restaurant” says Deji Adeyemo, Nigerian national and owner of Kitchen Vibes . “We sell food from four regions, North, West, East and South and our guests come from all over Africa, so we want this experience to be as authentic as possible,” he explains.
This pursuit of authenticity has driven Deji, an engineer by profession, to refine and curate the restaurant menu to reflect the true tastes of Africa that first inspired him to open the restaurant.
“We started in our kitchen cooking the food,” he explains. This came after Deji realised that the growing foreign African population in the Dainfern area was forced to drive far out for a taste of their favourite foods.
“People would call and we would deliver and as we gained traction we hired someone else to do the cooking and I would deliver.”
With his business growing in leaps and bounds Deji was forced to stop operating from his Dainfern residence and after being pushed from pillar to post finally set up shop in a little space on the corner of Main and Witkoppen Roads.
“Every disappointment they say is a blessing and looking back on our beginnings, starting from home was the best decision we ever made because we were able to curtail our expenses,” he explains.
Passionate About Africaness
Today the restaurant is located in the richest square mile in Africa at the Wedge Shopping Centre in Morningside, Sandton and has already hosted African diplomats and celebrities alike.
“The new location is seven times bigger than where we were before, we have a bigger kitchen and more staff and one of our key focus areas right now is ensuring that we create a team that works well together. It’s easy to create an ambience and put all of this together but the key and the core of this business is cooking and the service we offer guests and we don’t want to mess that up.”
For visitors to the restaurant the experience is not only about the food. “We are passionate about Africaness. Food brings people together and we’re using that as platform to say while you are here to eat, we need to teach you about African history,” Deji notes.
The restaurant, which plays music from all over the continent, has a gallery wall dedicated to African icons and he says they intend to add more leaders and legends to the wall. “We want to educate people on the leaders and legends who have been instrumental in shaping the continent, because the sad reality is that many of these people are not as well-known as they should be.”
The walls are also filled with African artwork that you can buy. “We have 15 artists from all over Africa that will be showcasing their art pieces here which is really a win-win situation because they have a platform to showcase their artwork and possibly make sales while we gain from having décor that is alive because the pieces change every three months.”
“Most of the African restaurants around the world are owned by non-Africans so the stories they tell and present about Africa are from their perspective. We are here to change the narrative that the African experience is only about animal skins and people with painted faces dancing around your tables.
“We are not taking away from our tradition, it has its place, but we are not running around in animal skins everyday which is why we want everything our restaurant to be as authentically African as possible,” he concludes.
Words by Liesl Frankson