We are obsessed with Afia Annebasua Opal, owner of Afia Chefs Table and cooking queen of authentic classic dishes from all over Africa! She is an entrepreneur, businesswoman and influencer by day, and a cool personal chef by night. As a modern day superwoman, we felt compelled to introduce you to this amazing woman, in our ‘Meet’ series. Check out how she balances it all and how her ‘let’s do it’ attitude has led to her success.
So Afia, Tell us about yourself
I was born in Accra, Ghana. I grew up in Ghana, lived in Burkina Faso, Egypt, and visited a few countries throughout Africa before moving to the United States. I started schooling at a very young age, because my older siblings were going to school and I didn’t want to be left behind. My sister, Evelyn, went to cooking school, so I followed in her path. In my second year of Secondary School, I decided I wanted to attend the College of Art. I soon discovered there was a fashion School nearby, so I decided to attend that college, too. I graduated from both colleges around the same time and became the youngest fashion designer to have a runway show in Ghana at that time. I designed outfits for four Miss Ghana contestants that year. They won 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place. Yeah!
What was your main inspiration behind your catering, food delivery, and private events business?
In Los Angeles, I started hosting friends in my home for dinner while also cooking for their own dinner parties. Soon, some of my friends started asking if I could host dinners for them. And here we are, years later!
What made you want to become a chef?
I love food! And I realised that, the only African food I could find in Los Angeles was Ethiopian or Moroccan. Where was the rest of Africa?
What makes your business stand out?
I put my personality into my cooking and my business. When I host my dinner events, I make an effort to make it special for everyone. From my table-setting decor to the moment you enter my place, you should feel welcome. I put passion and love into my cooking. I always want it to be an enjoyable experience for everyone.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own business?
When it comes to business, try to do what you love. My mother is always saying that to us. I know it’s not that simple, but whatever you do, believe in what you are selling to others. You should be true to yourself. I believe you can’t go wrong with that.
How do you balance a busy work life while still finding time for yourself?
I make sure I have time for myself. You know about the saying, all work and no play. If you don’t make time for yourself, you are left with nothing. What is the use doing all this then?
What does your typical self-care practice consist of?
I love using natural ingredients. Aloe Vera lotion is my go-to for my face, avocado, Shea butter and coconut oil for my hair and black soap for my washing. I enjoy drinking Caffeine Free Herbal Tea, that’s just because I can’t handle caffeine, though my neighbour is always inviting me for a Nespresso coffee with a lot of milk. I must admit, I love it!
What do you see as a relationship between food and health skin?
We are what we eat so whatever we eat, shows on our skin.
What is a typical day in your life?
I am not a breakfast person, but I love to have my morning cups of tea or my favourite hot chocolate. Then I will take my dog, Melody, for a walk then feed her. I tend to work out in the mornings but if I can’t, I find a way to fit it in later in the day. Then it all depends on what I feel like eating, and my schedule of the day.
What are your ‘go-to’ snacks?
Love nuts, oranges, plantains chips and Hummus.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the industry and why?
Anthony Bourdain, because he used to travel around the world, eating and cooking cuisine from the country he would land in. I have always wanted to do that.
What is your favourite home-cooked dish? Who inspired your cooking?
Favourite dish: Okra & eggplant stew with Polenta. I personally like adding seafood but you can also make it without. My cooking inspiration comes from my mom and sister, Belinda Hodasi. Growing up, watching them put together wonderful meals gave me the passion to cook.
Can you share the recipe with us?
What is your go-to fitness/wellness routine?
Running, hiking or a one-hour workout.
What are three things you could not live without?
Family, my copper cookware and fresh produce.
Describe your perfect day
A call to my mom, the weather -I am always happy when I wake up, pull the curtains and see the morning glow. A walk with my dog at the beach and a brunch with friends!