It’s often said that food brings families – and communities – together. That’s been Chef Godwin Ihentuge’s experience from the very beginning. “When I was coming up, family was a big thing,” Ihentuge says.
“It was really cool (that) something so simple as cooking food led to these other cool moments, weddings, birthday parties. I’ve always thought food was a cool way to bring people together. We could be not speaking the same language, and after six months, if we just ate dinner together every night, I’m sure we would have created our own way of communicating.”
The Detroit native and Wayne State University graduate who learned to communicate on a plate, specializes in west African and Caribbean food with vegan friendly options. This sensibility is being applied to several of Ihentuge’s ventures, the most recent being YumVillage (both a food truck and an upcoming bricks-and-mortar restaurant) and a weekly podcast (Refrigerator Diaries).
YumVillage, started in 2013, and has been literally popping up around the metro Detroit area since then; last year, it morphed into a food truck service. Early 2019 will see the opening of the new restaurant. Right now, Ihentuge has a Kickstarter to raise funds, which ends on Dec. 23.
“We’re just asking people to help us raise money toward the restaurant,” he says. “We’re giving away cool prizes. And then I’m also doing a dinner tour. In January, we’ll have a soft open – it won’t be sit-down but you’ll be able to get food to go.”
Ihentuge knows his community and is determined to bring something meaningful to the table. “The city is over 80 percent people of color,” Ihentuge says, “and like every restaurant that opens up or gets attention, they’re serving you the same thing. I want to serve stuff from the Diaspora.”