Covid-19 has caused small and medium-sized businesses to crumble, with the hardest hit being black founders. On the other hand, the pandemic has also brought out the innovative and creative side of confined people.
One such person is Renee Chuks, Head of Training and Founder of Aldente Africa. His company processes cassava into pasta. According Reutersthe Nigerian founder started experimenting with making pasta from cassava in her kitchen in Lagos during the 2020 lockdown.
She uses locally grown cassava and plantain instead of wheat to produce handmade pasta. Nigeria is one of the main cassava producers in Africa. In many parts of Africa, including Nigeria, cassava is used to make cassava pellets or cassava flakes. Chuks production is the latest addition to cassava utilization on the continent.
”We looked within to love the type of produce we have and eat every day. Cassava is one of our main major products, there will always be cassava by-products. So we thought let’s start with that, if we manage to get good success with cassava, everything else will follow,” she said.
She infuses her pasta with herbs and vegetables to give her pasta a greenish or pinkish tint. She touts her pasta as healthier and more affordable amid the rising cost of food in the market.
”The need to eat what grows on our land. The need to secure food on our earth, not to get all we eat from the outside, but rather to create from within and then share with the world the goodness we have.”
Chuks is a graduate of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. She graduated in 2011 and returned to Nigeria to work in various capacities as a chef in leading hotels in Nigeria.
She has been the headliner of several cooking shows and food festivals, in addition to being a consultant for the biggest food brands. For seven years she worked with the Trasco Group, owner of some of the best resorts and restaurants in Lagos.
Chuks sells its food through health food stores and online and the company is also among the first in Nigeria to make gluten-free pasta as more and more people look for wheat substitutes as gluten can create health problems.
“Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains. Human digestive systems cannot completely break down gluten. Although not a problem for most people, some people get sick from undigested gluten. An example is an autoimmune response to gluten called celiac disease. Celiac disease can damage the small intestine,” according to VOA apprenticeship.
In addition to making pasta, Chuks also produces herbal wines from hibiscus and herbs for cooking.