Chopd & Stewd fest celebrates West African food
The aroma of African spices, sounds of afrobeats and a vibrant energy filled the sky lawn at POST thanks to Rice MBA alumnus Ope Amosu ‘14, the visionary behind the Chopd & Stewd festival. The event was a day-long culinary and cultural celebration of the West African diaspora, taking place Sept. 30, the eve of Nigerian Independence Day.
The festival’s selection included Amosu’s restaurant ChòpnBlọk, a West African fast-casual fusion spot in Houston. As the founder of the Chopd & Stewd festival, Amosu said he was able to bringt his culinary creations and desire to express his culture to life.
“What a day, what a day, like Erykah Badu said. [Chopd & Stewd] has been a full day of energy and emotion and excitement,” Amosu said. “Honestly, it’s really fulfilling just to see a vision that I’ve had on my heart for over six years come to life and really see us be able to have a place to celebrate who we are as a diaspora. It just means so much.”
Amosu said his idea of the cultural festival coincided with the creation of his restaurant. Chopd & Stewd began as a monthly 20-person dinner event highlighting West African dining.
“I had the vision for creating ChòpnBlọk and I said, well, the way to launch it is through programming, and that’s how we did our Chopd & Stewd dining series,” Amosu said. “When we were ready to do another program, we said let’s do it at a different scale, and that’s how the festival component came about. It’s a full circle moment.”
Nigerian international student Ekene Emenike attended the festival as a part of Nigerian Independence Day celebrations.
“It was an enjoyable time that I could share with my friends in and out of the Black diaspora and show them parts of my culture, my favorite foods and snacks and many more things that I did not know I could experience in one building far from home,” Emenike, a McMurtry College senior, said.
Director of the Rice African Student Association dance team Crystal Unegbu recognized Rice’s support in student attendance of the fest.
“Chopd & Stewd was a wonderful event filled with so much culture and delicious foods,” Unegbu, a Hanszen College junior, wrote in a text to the Thresher. “I’m really grateful that H&D was able to get RASA members free tickets to attend!”
Amosu credits his experience at Rice for his entrepreneurial background and bringing the festival to fruition.
“My biggest thing at Rice that I took that translated here is understanding, as an entrepreneur, that you really got to walk your own path,” Amosu said. “Being able to take that perspective and know that [being] an entrepreneur is about seizing what’s on your heart and being bold to stand out there, is really what has propelled me to take these big visions and execute them. That is something I dwelled on while I was at Rice, and I have now implemented it post-grad.”
Amosu announced that he will be expanding his restaurant by opening a full-sized ChòpnBlọk location in Montrose. Furthermore, Amosu plans to continue with the Chopd & Stewd festival in future years.
“We built this in 90 days — three months,” Amosu said. “I’m just excited to see what we can do with the full year underneath our belt and to really make this vision even more polished.”
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