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This article was published 24/7/2017 (1315 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Folasade Akin-Akinbulumo wants more Winnipeggers to get a taste of Afro-Caribbean cuisine.
Akin-Akinbulumo is the owner and operator of AFV Groceries and Takeout Meals, which is located at 523 Marion St.
Originally from Nigeria, Akin-Akinbulumo and her family have been in Winnipeg since 2013, and been in business in St. Boniface since last year. Prior to moving to Canada, the family lived in the U.S.
The entrepreneur is in the process of redefining the direction of her business after she started out selling both takeout food and groceries. Her focus is now primarily on the food side of the operation — she has been using the brand AFV Kitchen Express on social media for some time — and her Afro-Caribbean offerings have developed a following in the city.
Two of her best-selling items are jollof rice with plantain and chicken, which is seasoned with traditional spices, and equsi soup, which is comprised of balls made of pounded yam, pounded cassava, dried yam paste and semolina served with melon seeds.
"My goal is to introduce West African cuisine to more people in Winnipeg," Akin-Akinbulumo said.
"You see lots of Chinese restaurants, for example, and restaurants from other nations, but you hardly see any West African cuisine. My intension is to bring awareness about it to people."
Since becoming affiliated with Skip the Dishes, Akin-Akinbulumo said awareness of her business has increased as it has reached more people.
"It’s been a very good experience, and good for our business, too, as it has helped expand our reach, and allows us to deliver at different times of the day," she said.
As well, the business has also won a spot at the Campo food court in University Centre at the University of Manitoba in September after winning a close-run vote over Burrito Splendido in a poll organized by University of Manitoba Dining Services. This means the business will run a "flex station" between September and December, Akin-Akinbulumo said.
"This is a big project for us on campus. It’s very, very exciting, and I’m so thankful for all the students that voted for us," she said.
And if this isn’t enough to keep her busy, Akin-Akinbulumo will also be helping with the catering at the Africa pavilion at Folklorama for the fourth year running. In 2014, there was a call for caterers in the community, someone put Akin-Akinbulumo’s name forward, and she’s been involved ever since.
"It’s a way to stay in touch with my culture, and the kids love it because it’s a nice way to hang out. For me, it’s about hanging out with the community and creating something for people to enjoy rather than making money or anything like that," Akin-Akinbulumo said.
"It’s important for us to be able to be who we are in a foreign land, and Folklorama is part of what Manitoba does to make sure we don’t forget where we’re from and it allows us to express ourselves."
While Akin-Akinbulumo’s ultimate goal is to reach as many food-loving Manitobans in as many places as possible, she loves catching the attention of those individuals on her doorstep.
"I love it when someone walks in and says it smells so good outside and asks what’s cooking. And whether it’s the postman or the delivery guys, they sometimes say it smells amazing. It feels very, very good to hear this," she said.
Visit www.afvgroceries.com for more information.
The Lance community journalist
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Canstar’s senior reporter, he joined the team in June 2009 to write for The Sou’wester, which was then the new paper in the Canstar family.