“The goal was to stand out and make an impact with my style; I am getting there” – Gaz Azah
Tell us a bit about yourself, your personality, and your background.
My name is Gaz Azah. I am a wife, a mother, I am supposed to be a teacher, but I choose to be a Food Girl.
How did you start your journey as the First Pidgin Food Blogger in Nigeria?
The habit has always been there; I just didn’t pay attention to it. I have always loved cooking; I cooked my first meal when I was barely 12. Before we had the technology cooking equipment take over, I remember using my firewood and black pot to make a meal in the village. We were waiting for my grandma to come do the cooking, but she didn’t arrive on time, so I did it.
Ever since then, being in the kitchen has become my style. I would cook for my friends and family. When I got married, it became an issue. I would always want to take a picture of whatever meal I made- this was in the era of photography. My hubby would always say, let’s eat (abegi), are we just going to look at the pictures? (lol) In 2020, I picked it up as a profession during the lockdown. It was first for fun when I started in 2015; I would take pictures and post it on my Instagram.
In 2020, I was thinking of a side hustle to combine with my make-up job. I noticed after posting food on my status, people would say ‘Gaz, do you sell this”? I would say yes, and they will place an order for it. But, I didn’t know there was another side to cooking, a side that drained me. So, I stopped taking orders and picked up doing reels, showing people my recipe, making videos, and posting.
When you say there was a side to cooking that drained you, could you elaborate on that?
I didn’t take into consideration that I had to have an understanding of how to charge customers. In trying to make a great meal, I would go all out and end up running at a loss. The day I made 4,000 naira profit from cooking, I was excited about the gain. I didn’t know there was a lot I needed to learn. I thought it was just about cooking and getting paid. My assistant at the time would help in the kitchen and with delivery, but I didn’t enjoy it anymore, and it was telling on me.
What was the inspiration for your style at Gaz Kitchen?
I am based in Delta, Warri precisely, and I did a little research and discovered there were no food bloggers here. I love my city, my hubby and I were supposed to relocate to Lagos, but I have stayed in that city and cannot handle the craziness that comes with it. So, I refused. My hubby understood and listened to me. I know people have this misconception about Warri, and I strived to use my cooking skill to stand out and change narratives. One time, I made a video with voice-over in English and Pidgin, and I realized how much people loved the Pidgin version; the feedback was amazing. In an industry where people are doing things and picking their style, I decided to pick mine and this became my style.
What do you consider the most challenging part of this journey?
Trying to balance my time is a challenge. I still have my make-up job, and my customers don’t want me to quit. They’ve been saying and hoping I don’t run off to become a food blogger forever. I try to manage my family, make sure my son is attended to, and make sure hubby is okay- he isn’t complaining- it is just the right thing to do, all in 24 hours. Balancing time is challenging.
What is the most defining moment for you in this journey?
Someone had reached out to me and said Gaz, I’ve been following you since you were at 4k; you’ve been an inspiration to me, please do not stop being you. That message stood out to me; I took a screenshot to always look over it whenever I feel discouraged. Basically, all the lovely messages that remind me we are building a community stands out to me.
What is the best meal you’ve ever made in Gaz Kitchen?
I can’t say; I cook just about anything. You know I am more of a traditional girl. But the one that gave me the spotlight on Instagram was the Kwoka and Coconut rice. These are Delta delicacies, and they got me a million views. The process was a lot; I had to go into the market and convince the women I wasn’t doing anything wrong with their recipe because it is sort of a trademark for them. It was a big deal for me, I did it first, and I am proud to say it.
What is your vision for Gaz Kitchen in the next 3-5 years?
I want to burst out because the dream is so big. I want it to be a household name. I want to be a part of people’s growth. I want people to say go to Gaz; she has something to give you. I want to impact the lives of everyone that comes in contact with me. If you do for person, God go do for you (no be so). I also see Gaz Kitchen working with remarkable brands across the globe.
Is there any advice or recommendation you have for the audience?
Be yourself, don’t copy anyone. If it is water you boil, boil it with pride. I hope someday I will get back to you and do some ‘how it started’ shoot. I see people under pressure trying to do some kitchen paparazzi and monetize everything. I didn’t even start monetizing this platform until 2022. Let it be the passion first; enjoy it, tell them about yourself, and brag about it. Stay consistent and pray. Develop a recipe, and do new things.
How do you like your pancakes?
Just give me my pancakes with avocado.
What is your favorite dessert to have?
Any dessert that has a taste of banana; give that to me.
We would like a parting word from Gaz Kitchen.
This is just me; I am Gaz, I love what I do. If you wake me up to cook for you at midnight, I would. Sneak peek, I can’t go three days without swallow. I like Fufu and okra, I am selling myself to you (lol).
Keep up with Gaz on Instagram @GazKitchen and get plugged into her content style.