Smith’s love for cooking was sparked by watching his parents and aunties in the kitchen. He started honing his skills at a young age and eventually was responsible for getting dinner on the table for the rest of his family. “It got to a point [that] it became a fun thing to do, especially watching The Food Network and seeing the amazing things that could be done with food,” says Smith. “I saw it as a getaway from the stress of studying for my professional accounting certification in Nigeria, and I got hooked. Since then, I’ve not stopped trying to cook better and learn more.”
Once Smith moved to the U.S. for his Master’s in 2015, he cooked for his friends and colleagues often, squeezing in trips to the African store for native produce and ingredients between classes and a teaching assistantship. His greatest hits include red Thai curry pasta, spicy herb turkey and goat meat peppersoup pho, a cross between a Nigerian soup and Vietnamese noodle dish. AllIDoIsCook started a year later, once Smith transferred his recipes from notes on his cell phone to his own blog. Soon after, he got his first request to ship food to a friend who couldn’t quite nail one of the site’s recipes, and an idea was born: What if this hobby could be a full-blown business?
Smith got to work hammering out the logistics, like figuring out how to cook and freeze food for cross-country shipping. “Of course, lots of money went down the drain with damaged packages [and] delayed deliveries, but I kept at it,” he says. A year later, he met Oyefeso—who also had friends offering to pay for her cooking.
“I thought, ‘If people are willing to pay for something I didn’t mind doing for free because I loved it, then I’ll do it more,’” she explains. Oyefeso had pivoted her career as well, going from teaching to running her own business, Good Eats with Beth O, when she and Smith joined forces in 2018. “It felt great to slowly put together a team of people that believed in the unclear vision at that point, and Bethany joining was all the validation that this was a worthy cause,” says Smith.
Oyinkan Funmilayo, a full-time tech product tester and AllIDoIsCook’s current Head of Product, Strategy and Communications, helped their ideas become reality. After becoming friends with Smith over Twitter, Funmilayo started volunteering suggestions for his recipe blog. A year later, he shared his vision for the business with her, and she joined the crew. “She works on everything from growth plans [to] branding [to] communications and a ton of other things at AllIDoIsCook,” says Smith.
By 2019, AllIDoIsCook was a fully registered business. Today, AllIDoIsCook ships authentic Nigerian cuisine to every state in the continental U.S. and caters weddings, private parties and beyond with fusion-style dishes. Due to COVID-19, the business initially suspended operations to re-strategize and eventually pivoted to prioritize food shipments over catering due to event cancellations. “We had about four weddings lined up for the month of May, but then the pandemic hit,” says Oyefeso.
But the business endured. “We spent one month just creating recipes and content, which was fun and we weren't thinking about it a lot,” says Smith. “Apparently, we’d racked up so much engagement that the total number of orders [our] first week back went up 400 percent. We actually had to move into a bigger production facility.”