Hello guys! Welcome to the very first edition of the Dee-Audacious segment on the Deespeakable Blog in the year 2021. To kick off this year’s edition of the segment, I got to have a chat with Coker Efetobo Japhet of Le Japhé; a Petroleum Engineer from George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, Ghana, a Chef and the CEO of Le Japhé.
I met Japhet in a vehicle on my way to work, sometime last year and he introduced me to his business. After taking some time to go through his business page on Instagram and looking at his work, I could see the passion and the determination he puts into his craft. I thought to myself “these look good and he sure looks like he loves what he is doing!”
I knew at that moment that I needed to hear Japhet’s story! It was indeed an interesting chat as Japhet who is currently interning at the Red Gourmet Kitchen in Abuja, Nigeria, gave me an insight into his personality, his family, his journey towards discovering his passion, the ups and downs of being a young business owner and how a Petroleum Engineer is thriving as a Chef and a young business owner in Nigeria.
Stay with me as I converse with “Dee-Audacious” Japhet of Le Japhé…….
Tell me something about yourself Japhet and what kind of person would you describe yourself as?
My name is Coker Efetobo Japhet, I am 24 years old from Warri, Delta State. I am the second child in a family of three.
I am a Petroleum Engineer from George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa, Ghana, and the CEO of Le Japhé.
I would describe myself as a simple, unique gentleman who is very friendly, hardworking, determined, loves nature, and believes any relationship should be built on honesty, appreciation, and trust.
I enjoy cooking, playing games, looking good, watching and playing football and basketball.
What was growing up with your family like?
Growing up was fun because my family members are great and amazing people. My dad was my role model though we lost him two years ago in June (may his soul rest in peace), my elder brother who is strong and willing to go above and beyond filled his shoes by being my motivation and he pushed me to become the person I am today.
My mum who is everything to me and my younger sister who is the baby of the house is both amazing and growing up with them in my life did a lot of great things.
I am quite surprised though, as a Petroleum Engineer, how did you end up as a chef?
Well, I guess I always loved cooking, (laughs) that is a lie because if I tell you about the first stew I made, you will tell me not to make food again.
I will say that I just really loved food and eating and also enjoy the taste of New things in my mouth.
So much that you decided to make a career out of it? When did it grow from being something you loved to something you wanted to do professionally?
I am pretty sure it was when I recreated a dish from a picture I saw on the Internet and it just took off from there. I was always cooking for my friends in school and getting good compliments and criticisms too. All of that was just pushing me to go to culinary school and make something out of it. I remember telling my Mum after I was done with school that I would love to go to culinary school but it was too expensive. I also told her not to worry and I will make it happen.
What was the experience in culinary school like?
It is one of the best things I have ever had to do in my life. High expectations and everything was met and more.
If I am to give any advice to anyone that wants to go to a culinary school, I will say “it is not an easy task but if it is something you want to do for the long term, it will come easy to you”
That’s great, so let us talk about “Le Japhé” your confectionary business, when did you establish that?
The company was founded by me, created by me, and established by me.
Let me put this on the record, the idea of Le Japhé came to me in a week and started the next week.
How it happened I still do not know but I can remember sitting in my room back home and I picked a paper and pen and was like “what will be a good name for a restaurant? Let’s say mine?”
I have always liked the French people, their culture, their cuisines and pastries, their way of life, and everything down to their accent. It is just amazing!
So, I decided to go the French way for a name and wanted it to be my legacy and that was how the idea of “Le Japhé came about and it means “The Japhet”.
Le Japhé was established on October 7th, 2017, and has been up and running till date.
How has the journey been since its establishment? What lessons have you learnt so far?
The Journey… I do not even know how to start, but I thought it was going to be piece of cake Lol!
Well, I can now tell you first hand that it is not. My advice to people out there that will like to start a business is that; if you are not putting your 200% every second, it will go down. Just like mine almost did.
It was the first year in the business, I just started and things were going great. I was getting orders left, right, and center and it was amazing until I almost lost it all (by the way, I started my business in Warri, Delta State). I was doing great, but I was not the only one, I was working alongside my cousin. He was the photographer behind all my shots when I started and also the taster.
Then, the year 2018 July or thereabout came and nothing was coming in. No orders, no new projects, nothing, and all this happened because I slipped off a little bit. I was comfortable and the 200% that I was giving, dropped to 100% and it almost crashed my business.
I also ran into debts and I was finding it difficult to refund the money.
One beautiful Sunday came and I was in church and before I left, I told God, “This week I’m entering please send me customers from North, South, East, and West to find me, Amen!”
The week came, I was on my daily routine and all at the gym and this lady came to me and said she heard I bake cakes and she will be needing 400 cupcakes for her Father’s birthday and I was like; “Let’s do it!” The money I collected for that work is a tad less than half the money I would have collected but I had to take it cause I needed to pay off my debts.
So, I did! From the money, I paid off some people, bought ingredients with the rest of the money, and worked for two days straight to make those cupcakes. On the day of delivery, I discovered that my mother and the person having his birthday are related!
Every day, I keep asking myself “what if I did not take that job because the money was not worth it?” I would miss knowing and meeting great people. It was an amazing one, and just like that, I started getting calls for cake orders, doughnuts, and others. One by one I settled my debts and had more than enough at hand.
That period was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had in this company and my life.
What I have been trying to say is this, always and always give your 200% every second of the day because that moment you feel very comfortable and just more relax than normal, you could just lose it all. What I mean by 200% is this; the first 100% is for God and the last 100% is for you and that time I lost my first 100% and the second was relaxed and not ready to work and I could have just lost everything I worked tirelessly for.
Wow, that was quite a lesson… so, how do you keep up with the latest trends of cuisine?
I follow up some pages on Google and they send me different recipes week in week out, also with Instagram and Twitter. I also look up meals whose names I hear in the movies.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
I will say Italian for cuisine and pastries; I will go with French. Italian for me is just the classic, from their way of life to their cuisine. It is just amazing and I am a lover of pasta so that is another plus.
For French Pastries, what is there not to love? Especially a warm and crusty Baguette or Croissant. Yummm…My apologies, I got into my special place; I love food, Lol!
France is Pastry and Pastry is France and someday, I would love to go there on a Pastry course.
Have you ever had a kitchen disaster before?
Okay, I will spill a little secret lol!
I presume my first mistake in the kitchen was the day that I was asked to make stew for the house. Ahhh! How do I? Where? Should I? What is happening?
I was bringing up questions and answering them for myself!
I made the stew, and let’s just say it was raw! My family members teased me about it lol.
What would you say is your most essential item in the kitchen?
All items are important to me in the kitchen. I love to have a great set of knives with me in the kitchen especially when I want to handle cuisines and when I want to bake, I love to have my silicon spatulas around me.
What is the one thing you want to be known for as a Chef?
A Pastry Chef. It took me a long way to arrive at that but I love pastry so much and I love creating them. I also love cuisine but I love pastry more.
In three words, describe the everyday life of a Chef?
Engaging, unending, and beautiful!
Is there any Chef out there that inspires you?
Oh….there are a lot of Chefs out there that inspire me but my best chef out there will be Chef Bobby Flay. He is an American Iron Chef.
There is just something about him when he works in the kitchen that just amazes me. He is calm and collected. That alone is hard for a chef in the kitchen.
He works with so much ease and makes everything look good. If I had wanted to be mentored by any chef on earth, it will be Chef Bobby Flay. That is how much I admire him!
Where do you see Le Japhé in five years?
Honestly, I do not have the answer to this question because the truth is that no one can predict tomorrow and five years from now.
I am going to be building Le Japhé greatly until I cannot anymore but I will leave you with this… Le Japhé will go to places imaginable and unimaginable.
Amen to that! Do you have plans for Le Japhé this year? What are they?
Build! Build! Build!
Give the people top quality stuff, give the people new stuff and just build on everything! The people deserve the best right, so why not give it to them!
That is wonderful, thank you so much for your time and I wish you all the best in your endeavours this year! You can keep up with Chef Japhet of Le Japhé on Instagram @ and you can order your delicious meals and pastries from him.
Thank you for stopping by!