The Groundnut is a South London based partnership consisting of Folayemi Brown, Duval Timothy, and Jacob Fodio Todd. Their amazing concepts includes making fabulous dinners for guests to enjoy, all from a set menu inspired by African and European cuisine; a perfect reflection of them.
What inspired you to have your launch party at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton?
Folayemi: We had visions of the book launch being a great celebration, a place where we could share a moment with all the people who’ve supported us along the way. Since we’re all based in South London, Black Cultural Archives was the ideal location, while the open-air courtyard offered the right feel for a mid-summer evening. Finally, we hoped that our book could contribute to the existing Archive at The BCA.
How did you all come together? What is the relationship dynamics like with each other?
Folayemi: Meeting regularly in person is the foundation of how we work. We’re used to seeing a lot of each other having met through school and university, and we’ve always enjoyed talking about ideas. The dynamic is pretty balanced; we all lead at certain times, and we try to share our individual experiences when we’re working on something together. We talk things through all the time to make sure everybody is on the same page, but we also have the relationship dynamics like with each other.
Folayemi: Meeting regularly in person is the foundation of how we work. To seeing a lot of each other having met through school and university, and we’ve always enjoyed talking about ideas. The dynamic is pretty balanced; we all lead at certain times, and we try to share our individual experiences when we’re working on something together. We talk things through all the time to make sure everybody is on the same page, but we also have the urgency to bring our ideas into life.

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With your first pop-up restaurant, how would you describe the experience of what it was like, and what did you learn from it?

Folayemi: It was a bit mental. There was a lot to do in a small period. Before Christmas, we were talking talking talking, but suddenly, we switched mode. I got back from a trip to Lagos, and with 60 people coming for dinner in two weeks the pressure was on. We thrive with the intensity of an upcoming event; it’s like an exhibition where your work is exposed to fee-paying guests. It was comforting to have friends and family in the crowd at the start, but that probably drove us to work even harder on getting it right. We take a lot of pride in our work.

Duval, you’re described as an artist in many ways, including music – your album Dukobanti is a favourite of mine to listen to on Soundcloud when I’m working. Would you say that these several expressions of art also adds to The Groundnut?
Duval: My art practice extends into many different fields including music, food, clothing, sports, sculptural objects and a distinct use of colour. One thing that ties together my interest in all of these things is the ability for people to interact with the work. The Groundnut offers a unique opportunity to respond to the architecture of each space we set up in by designing and building our furniture, tableware, and even aprons, which echo similar aesthetics and themes as my artwork. It’s always a joy to finally witness guests using designs that were conceived in the studio only a few weeks before each event.
I see you graduated from Goldsmiths University; so did I! Are people surprised when you say you studied Politics with Economics? Did you enjoy it? Jacob: No, people aren’t surprised. I think people from all walks of life seriously embrace food, so it’s common for people with different backgrounds to get involved. Goldsmiths was great, a place with a huge variety of people, interesting mix of subjects, some great teachers, and through the university, I met some close friends like Duval and Yemi, so it furnished me well. Folayemi, coming from a Nigerian background and an interest in the deep history of Nigeria, if you could go there now and change anything, what would you do? Folayemi: I would probably create a waterbus service to counter the ridiculous go-slow in Lagos! I visit my family there regularly, and it’s a recurring thought I’ve had. Where does each of your parents originate from? Describe any early experiences of your motherlands Folayemi: My parents both grew up in Lagos. That’s their home. Duval: My dad grew up in Freetown and moved to England at a young age. My mum grew up in Fleet. Jacob: I have English on my maternal side and SOUTH Sudanese heritage on the paternal. I spent my early childhood in Tanzania, Swaziland, and Mozambique, where my parents worked, and I have great memories of those times. Enjoying chicken amendoim, a Mozambiquan peanut-based stew, is one of my fondest, and luckily I managed to relive it having revisited the country last year.
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Your cookbook is published by Penguin has received fantastic reviews. What are the two dishes you urge us to make for a nice lunch break during a busy day at work? The Groundnut stew is one. It’s a perfect leftover to take in with you, and it would have your colleagues looking over your shoulder enviously! You could pair that with some steamed basmati, or plantain, and a fresh salad like our cucumber and radish recipe for a lovely lunch. Do you feel free?
The Groundnut has been a fantastic venture so far. We’ve been able to work intensely on our plans, from the dinners to the completing The Groundnut Cookbook, and have also been fortunate enough to travel to France, Holland, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia together in the name of work. We couldn’t have asked for much more when we started the project.
The Groundnut are going back to roots and will be hosting dinners throughout November and the first two weeks of December at St. John’s Hall in Tower Bridge, for Groundnut Season.

Tickets are set to sell out quick, don’t miss out and grab your tickets directly from – www.thegroundnut.co.uk

You can discover West African food with The Groundnut Cookbook “packed full of gorgeous full-colour photography and easy-to-follow, fresh and healthy recipes”,  which is available to purchase most major bookstores and online – The Groundnut Cookbook.
Subject – The Groundnut

Interviewed by Hananh Ajala

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