Discovering African and Caribbean food in London with Chopstreets
A single bracelet, it is said does not jingle. Vivian Ngwodo must have had this Congolese saying in mind when she set up Chopstreets , the first ever food app for discovering and exploring a myriad of African and Caribbean restaurants, supper clubs, takeaways, and pop-ups in London, UK. Chopstreets is the platform where single bracelets commune and bunch together to jingle. A real breadth of fresh air! We know first hand how irritatingly difficult it is for a Londoner to traverse from North to South and East to West trying to find a bite from authentic African or Caribbean eateries. A quick trawl on Chopstreets revealed that a couple of our favourite restaurants – 805 and 280 degrees are already listed.
We caught up with Vivian Ngwodo to get to know a bit more about Chopstreets.
Where did the idea of “Chopstreets” come from?
‘Chop’ in Nigerian local parlance means ‘Eat’. The whole idea was for people to eat their way through African and Caribbean food via the Streets of London.
The name “chopstreets” is short and memorable and as those in the know, know ties into what the site does. Talk us through the process of coming up with it.
Chopstreets was originally ‘Chop Street London’ when I started out in 2014 as a blog. In 2016, we rebranded to ‘Chopstreets’ which was shorter and more catchy. I felt the old name was too long and restrictive (London). I wanted something short, memorable and catchy. However, I still wanted ‘Chop’ included in the name as it had a story to tell. So I met up with my mentor and we had a long brain storming session where we eventually settled on ‘Chopstreets’ after several unavailable options. I checked online to see if anyone was using Chopstreets already, checked if the domain was available, as well as if it was available on all the social media platforms I was using. It was and we proceeded to make the changes and here we are today.
Reviews can be just as important to some people as finding where local eateries are. To what extent are user reviews integrated into chopstreet?
User reviews are a key part of Chopstreets. We believe that one of the ways in which African and Caribbean food businesses can grow is to provide constructive feedback to them via reviews. We encourage our users to share their dining experiences on the App or website. Where a bad review has been added, we would usually notify the business owner to respond to it.
What would you say are the three most eye catching and useful elements of Chopstreets ?
– Easy to use and navigate with picture sharing, liking and comments functionalities
– Easily find restaurants near you depending on your location
– Filter your search by region so you know the exact type of African food you want to eat E.g East African – this will give you a map or list view of all East African restaurants, takeaways and Supper Clubs
Where do you see the popularity of African as well as Caribbean food in the UK in the next 5 years?
I see the popularity of African and Caribbean catching up with Asian and Oriental cuisine here in the U.K.
There has been a slow but steady growth in African and Caribbean food businesses in the U.K with more and more non-Africans embracing it. The number of African and Caribbean Supper clubs and pop-ups have also increased tremendously over the last few years. With the right level of representation and exposure, we can expect to see the popularity of African food soar high. This is one of the reasons why we have developed Chopstreets.
If a chopstreets user were to ask you what your favourite restaurants or hangouts in London are, what would be your response?
Lol… Find, Explore, Share! Create your own experience and share with the Chopstreets Community. There are also loads of weekly and weekend foodie events listed on the App which gives you the opportunity to try delicious foods from different African countries right here in London. That being said, our team is currently working on a detailed guide for our users, so watch out.
Which three African dishes would you consider to be favourite of yours and why?
Just 3?? I consider so many to be my favourite, but I would say these are my top 3 at the moment
– Jollof Rice! Jollof Rice is life and it is common to most West African Countries
_ Pounded Yam and Ogbono – I grew up eating this popular Nigerian dish almost every day …lol
– Kelewele and Red Red – Alicia from Chalè Let’s Eat introduced me to Ghanaian food and since then, I haven’t looked back
My next foodie destination is Ethiopia/Eritrea and there are a number of Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants listed on Chopstreets.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never stop learning. Keep engaging in continuous learning and mastery of new skills in your craft. You don’t want to be left behind!