Michael Elegbede

Chef Micheal’s childhood revolved around food. He was exposed to professional kitchens in a unique way as both his mother and grandmother found their niche in professional cooking and teaching. He pursued his first degree in biology before deciding to change his path and focus on his passion, culinary arts.

His love for food is intertwined with his search for identity, authenticity and love. After working at Eleven Madison Park and NoMad restaurants, he decided to move back to Nigeria and immerse himself in her diverse cuisine. Drawing on the training from his experiences at some of the world’s best restaurants, and inspiration from Nigeria’s native cuisines; he was inherently motivated by the belief that we make the greatest impact on the world when we do what we love, and this birthed Itan Test Kitchen in Lagos Nigeria, 2017.

Itan means ‘story’ in the Yoruba language, and this embodies the aim of the test kitchen. To tell the story of Nigerian cuisine, rediscovering and reimagining the different ways Nigerian ingredients can be used and her cooking traditions interpreted to curate remarkable eating experiences. Itan is a unique expression of Nigerian food that explores the glory and diversity of local ingredients and cooking methods.

His passion and dedication has taken him to many great places. In 2018, he hosted a dinner titled ‘This is Nigeria’ at the James Beard House to showcase creative Nigerian cuisine. He is a proud signatory of the SDG2 Advocacy Hub’s Chef’s Manifesto which encourages chefs to make sustainable changes for a better future for food. In 2019, he launched ABORI marketplace which is a collective movement aiming to facilitate sustainable growth in Nigeria’s food systems.

In 2020, he was named as one of the 100 Emerging chefs by the 20 leading chefs. In 2021, he was recognised as a pioneer in National Geographic’s Traveller.