Chef Patience Titcombe Brings Fusion Nigerian Food to America's Southwest

Patience Titcombe, known as Chef Patty, brings fusion Nigerian cuisine to America’s Southwest while sharing her childhood memories in new culinary experiences.

Chef Patience Titcombe Brings Fusion Nigerian Food to America's Southwest

Bringing fusion Nigerian food to America’s Southwest was not Chef Patty’s initial goal. Growing up in Nigeria and the U.S., she grew up surrounded by Sunday dinners and family prepping meals for days. When she moved to Arizona, without knowing anyone, she turned to cooking to make meals that reminded her of home.

I started the business more so out of survival. I relocated from Philadelphia to a small town in Arizona in 2014 for a job. I didn't know a single soul. I was here as a single mom. I just got tired of the food around me. I started to crave Nigerian food, that soulfulness, and food that I remembered was to learn how to cook it.

Recreating Nigerian flavors out of necessity

Her process was purely trial and error, and Youtube. She recalled flavors and tastes in her memory but became eager to learn how to recreate those flavors practically. She began testing recipes online, sourcing whatever ingredients she could that resembled the flavors. She started cooking for her local community for dinners and communal events – and the idea of catering these dishes was born.

I'm the girl that puts her cart before the horse. This entire culinary experience has been a trial-and-error experience for me.

Adapting flavors for local palettes

Serving fusion Nigerian-American food, she serves non-traditional Nigerian food at Lasgidi Cafe. While making dishes more adaptable to the American palette, she adjusts recipes to taste akin to the original dish. As an introduction to the culture, Chef Patty hopes her meals become the first entrance for diners into Nigerian cuisine. While attempting to find substitutions and adaptable recipes, Chef Patty hopes to share her stories alongside the food she serves.

From catering to hosting events with her food truck, she wants to see more ways to bring Nigerian flavors to America’s Southwest. Chef Patty sources what she can online but actively tries to find local solutions. Whether sourcing frozen fish and shellfish to different spices readily found in Arizona. The rest remains as a community effort: her family visits her with luggage full of imported ingredients – from smoked fish to spices.

My primary customer base is not your traditional Nigerian. I'm all for substituting. I’d rather them taste the jollof rice or the egusi with beef and chicken, instead of cow skin and tripe. Trying to source items is difficult because of where Arizona geographically is. But of course, I lean on my Nigerian community too – my aunties often bring items like dried or smoked fish in their suitcases across the country.

Childhood memories inspire her culinary experiences

Beyond the food itself, Chef Patty’s memories of home are incorporated into each dish – from her jollof rice to her okra soup. She shares her early morning Saturday chores in her youth, helping her mother make foil pouches for moi moi – how she used to crease and fold hundreds of pouches for the bean pudding. While not becoming a food professional until later in her life, Chef Patty finds these stories share how these recipes follow a long line of generations and many ancestral and familial cooks.

I knew that I wanted a food truck. I went to the bank, asked for a loan, and they said no. I was fortunate enough to find a community development financial institution that gives business loans to small businesses. While at the original bank, they weren't willing to take that risk on someone like me, and I told them: "Not only am I gonna get the loan, I'm gonna come back, and feed your employees."

Ayilata: Nigeria’s most popular sauce

Now, she sells Ayilata, a Nigerian pepper sauce used to prepare classic Nigerian dishes such as Jollof Rice, Egusi Soup, or Efo Riro. Known to Chef Patty as the Nigerian Trifecta, she finds this sauce made from tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions in most Nigerian meals. By selling this, she hopes more customers can also begin cooking Nigerian food at home – beyond eating within her food truck.

When you ask, when do I sleep? Trust me, some days. It's very, very late.

While entrepreneurship runs deep within Chef Patty’s day-to-day, she finds daily motivation to bring Nigerian dishes to Phoenix, Arizona. While originally from a place of survival, Chef Patty has turned her eager curiosity and experimentation into a Nigerian hub in the Southwest. Looking to create further spaces to increase access to Nigerian food in America’s Southwest, Chef Patty hopes to bring her favorite childhood memories across the country and worldwide.

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