St. Marys resident Andrew Middleton spent the past year in Nigeria on Professional Development leave from his position as Professor in the school of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Conestoga College.
Andrew worked at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan. IITA is a global leader in Agricultural Research and has stations in 11 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
The headquarters of the institute are based in Ibadan on a 1000-hectare site that was originally built by the Rockefeller and Ford foundations 51 years ago. Andrew managed Hospitality and Travel Service of the Institute which welcomes conferences, workshops, training courses and international and national visitors. IITA describes that its goal is to deal with Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.
The hospitality and travel services area (HOSTRAS) has a 150-bedroom hotel and serves up to 2,000 meals a day. It also organizes travel for the 300 international scientists who travel throughout the world focussing on fulfilling on the institute’s mandate.
HOSTRAS has 200 nationally employed staff. While Andrew was there, the Head Chef Funmilayo Joe-Oka applied and was awarded a talent grant which she is using to get 5 weeks’ experience in Canada by following courses at Conestoga College.
Funmi arrived in St. Marys last week and you may have seen her around town. As Funmi has never left Africa before, you can imagine that the experience of Ontario is quite a shock. Going to the grocery store, cutting the grass, helping at the Community Suppers, attending classes at Conestoga and especially the colder temperatures are all new to her.
During her stay, Funmi will help raise funds for an art project in Ibadan. The project gets children involved by collecting empty plastic bottles and old used tires and painting them and putting them up on walls to make murals.
To raise funds, Funmi will cook a Nigerian dinner at the United Church on Saturday, October 27th. Funmi is known for her Jollof Rice, a popular dish throughout West Africa, and it will be served with Nigerian style chicken and some accompaniments from Nigeria. There will be spicy and non-spicy versions.
There will also be Wellesley Apple cider and Fresh Fruit Salad with ice-cream.
Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for those 12 and under while those under 5 years of age eat for free. There will be a sitting at 5:00pm and at 6:30pm. Tickets are available at the church office.