Dami and Ify Odugbemi are great admirers of their mothers. After all, they had significant parts to play in where the Nigerian entrepreneurs are today.
“Our mothers were key players in the hospitality industry,” says Dami, 46.
“They involved us fully in the operations of their businesses which exposed us to the dynamics of food and drink, and made us taste enthusiasts.”
Ify’s mum, Sylvia Obi, resides in Ibadan and runs an industrial farm while Simisola Odugbemi, Dami’s mum, is a retired caterer and chef who lives in Lagos.
Sylvia and Simisola built up the couple’s sense for flavour, as did the years they spent travelling and working in various parts of the world.
And what do you get when two passionate foodies experience a lack of diverse condiments on supermarket shelves?
A business opportunity.
The birth of Succulento
Dami and Ify, 44, relocated to the UK in 2006 and 2010 respectively for their studies and now reside in Aberdeen.
Ify attended the University of Dundee and has a masters in energy law while Dami attended Robert Gordon University and attained an MBA in oil and gas management.
Formerly both working in the oil and gas sector, the couple soon stumbled across a recurring issue in the workplace – “bland” lunches.
“We noticed that a lot of folks wanted more variety,” Ify said.
“A good number of our colleagues always complained about the taste of what they bought at lunchtime or what they were served at meetings. The available staples tasted bland.”
Dami added: “This was a far cry from what Ify and myself were used to and had been involved in.
“Fast forward to 2013, my job came to an end and a strong thought drove me into doing extensive research on food and flavour in the UK.”
‘Our vision is to make eating interesting’
The couple identified the problem was down to the lack of diverse condiments with the market boasting either overly salty or sugary products.
“Thus, we decided to create a range that is ready to eat so you can dip, grill and add to your cooking recipes,” Dami went on to say.
The current Succulento range, which is plant-based, comprises sauces and rubs and was launched in 2019.
Prior to this, Dami and Ify carried out tastings to help identify what flavours appealed to the public.
In terms of rubs, sapid seafood spice, Jamaican jerk barbecue, pili pili and sizzling chicken are among the options. Sauce flavours include curry, jalapeno and spiced barbecue to name a few.
Ify said: “Our award-winning naga chilli ketchup, which blends mangos, yellow bell peppers and naga with our unique blend of spices, can be used as a dip, in burgers and sandwiches, and to flavour your cooking.
“Another champion is the hot pili pili sauce, inspired by a popular Nigerian sauce, obe ata [pepper stew or fried pepper stew].”
Where can I buy the products?
Succulento products are stocked at several venues across the north-east and further afield. They include Castleton Farm Shop, Hammerton Store, Marshall’s Farm Shop and Replenish.
Customers can also visit the website – www.succulento.co.uk – for orders, too.
“Our vision is to make eating an interesting experience globally,” adds Dami.
“This includes making great tasting products – primarily using natural ingredients with a balance of spicy peppers and sugar and salt to taste – and looking for ways to make this available for folks who are keen on taste with a delicious touch of spiciness and are health conscious.”
The business’ team comprises five to 10 members, and Dami and Ify are looking forward to stopping by this year’s Taste of Grampian festival at P&J Live.
They will be joined by an extensive list of fellow exhibitors who have also signed up to attend the one-day event event on Saturday June 3.
He added: “It’s always a pleasure to reconnect with our customers and meet new people who appreciate great taste. Make sure you come visit our stand.”
James is best-known for being one of the UK’s top chefs. And Poppy is a Michelin-trained chef who rose to fame on TikTok.
Tickets to Taste of Grampian are priced at £15 each plus booking fee and children under 12 go free.
There is a booking fee of £1 and a £1 service charge on Ticketmaster.
Parking is also free on the day.
For more information visit www.tasteofgrampian.co.uk