Ope Tejuoso’s commitment and desire to follow her instinct is the reason she became the head baker/creative director of ‘Opindos’ bakery and The Muse Academy. Tejuoso, a legal practitioner, has taken her game a notch higher by opening Opindos Ventures Limited, located on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
She has one good promise: clients should expect all homemade foods both local and continental dishes. It is also a place where one could quickly pick up some freshly baked items. She adds that she was at a crossroad deciding whether to specialize on cooking or baking, but with her late mother’s wise counsel questioning the difference between cooking and baking. “I kept it in mind as an eye opener. Now, I am set to do both,” the delectable lady told Sunday Gists.
You wonder how a highflying lawyer chose to have a career in the food industry. Tejuoso who is the only daughter of former governor of Lagos State Air Commodore Gholahan A. Mudasiru of blessed memory, says, “Before studying Law, I enjoyed cooking. As the only girl in the family I had a whole lot of opportunities to do the cooking. I remember baking cakes for my friends’ birthday in my secondary school days in Queen’s College. I cooked for my brothers during their parties, cooked for my friends in school under the supervision of two eagled eyed elders, my grandmother and my own mother, who are both late.
She adds: “As early as age six, my grandmother drafted me into the kitchen and by my 13th birthday, I was already a mini-chef. I was still very active in the kitchen throughout my school years in the University of Lagos while studying Law.
“My graduation, getting married and delivery, all came almost at the same time and the Law school was moved to Abuja. With a little baby in my hand, the logistics of moving to Abuja for the Law school was not feasible at all. I began to think of what to do and saw an advertisement on television about a chef school in London. I applied and was admitted into the world famous Leith’s School of Food and Wine, London, United Kingdom.’
“When I came back from UK, I got a job with Eko Hotels and worked with every department while still baking.” Apart from knowing and exhibiting cooking mastery at a tender age, Ope as she is fondly called is also in love with cakes. “I love cakes, my 21st birthday cake was very nice and it strengthened my curiosity to learn more. I also trained in a baking school in UK. With my cakes and foods in my kitty, I finally went to Law School and from there to the law firm of George Ikoli and Okagbue, which was a great exposure for me but chose to be different among my peers.
In 1998, Tejuoso incorporated ‘Opindos’, a bakery company and finally set up the Muse Academy, which she describes as ‘living my dream.’ All her businesses are related to food. “I have a sewing outfit that does uniforms, overalls and simple clothings for the kitchen,” she says.
And what are her high points as a food vendor? She responds: “My 21st birthday cake got me three orders. Baking a birthday cake for a former president and organizing breakfast for the Nigerian Catholic Bishops Conference were all referral jobs and high points. Referral jobs gladden my heart.”
Talking about the Muse academy, she says, “It is a total package for everyone, though we started with brides who are set to settle down in marriage before we added the demonstration class for children to catch them young. I develop recipes and curriculum for the Creative Kitchen classes.”
It is noteworthy that she did not really plan to be a chef and baker as she explains: “As a child I wanted to be a teacher. When I grew a little older, I realized teaching was not meant for me. But somehow, I have now found joy in teaching because I do it in my comfort zone.”
Today, she has put all her destiny, gift, intelligence and commitment together to see through a full blown academy, a cake bakery, a stop-over food centre, a clothing shop and then put the icing on the cake by becoming a qualified lawyer running perfectly legal businesses.