Dreaming, cooking, winning: The Zeelicious foods’ story

You may always hear the word ‘Dreaming’ from someone who’s plans to take action on their dreams, or have a plan they’ve been holding hostage in their mind for years.

But with Winifred Emmanuel Nwania, the founder and creative director of Zeelicious Foods, “Talk is cheap, execution is her calling card.

Very few people have the guts, tenacity and diligence to go after their dreams, and make it a thriving career. The Anambra born Winifred is among the gutsy few living out their dreams, against all odds.

Winifred grew up in the vibrant city of Lagos, with her mom and 6 siblings. She enjoyed a loving relationship with her dad, who passed on when she was only 12 years of age.

Losing him ignited an intense desire to succeed within her. She decided making a success of her life will be the most ideal way to honour her absent father. And make her dogged mother proud of the woman she raised.

Fast forward to a decade later. That little girl who was in grief after losing her dad is now 22. She grew up deprived of most of the comforts her father provided for the family.

But, she didn’t let this bother her, instead she learned to turn all the sour lemons life threw at her into sweet lemonade.

She dreamed up lofty dreams of one day running her own global enterprise, talking in boardrooms to executives and business partners. She had no business experience, and didn’t know how any of her dreams will come to pass, she just believed it would.

After graduating from the University of Lagos, with a degree in Economics, she landed a high-paying job with an oil and gas firm in Lagos. Her career seemed to have taken off to a flying start.

Her pay package was great, and her new lifestyle was exquisite. But her heart was pulling her in a different direction.

READ ALSO: Lagos sees food delivery boom amid lockdown

While at work, she always dreamed up new recipes. and when she went home, she recreated them. As a side hobby; she blogged about them to a tiny audience she had garnered online.

With zero business connections, and little or no savings, she quit her job and the Zeelicious Foods brand was born.

“Frankly, I didn’t know much about business. I just knew I love to cook and I love to see people enjoy my culinary creations. I also loved helping the people who contacted me asking for recipes and cooking tips. I knew if I did this for the rest of my life I’d be one of the happiest women in the world”, she said. This thought made Winifred clarify her vision.

Now, she doesn’t just to create recipes, she showcases Nigerian and African-inspired foods to the world with style and elegance. She also teaches home cooks {across the world) how to expand their repertoire of recipes and enjoy cooking with her fun, simple and fast cooking tutorials.

Starting her cooking show on YouTube was the first step in making her renewed vision a reality.

By December 2018, less than 6-months after Zeelicious Foods launched on YouTube, Winifred had garnered over 50,000 subscribers.

One year later, her YouTube channel had grown to over 100,000 subscribers and YouTube awarded her their coveted Silver Play Button Award for this milestone.

Now in 2020, the Zeelicious foods company is no longer just a YouTube cooking show. It’s become a fast-growing culinary brand, with an audience cutting across three continents.

Zeelicious Foods is now making inroads onto the big screen. The cooking show now airs on free TV channels in Nigeria and Ghana. And talks are ongoing for it to get picked up by 7 other TV stations across Africa. But, this young lady isn’t done yet.

At the moment she is working relentlessly behind the scenes at Zeelicious Foods. She’s working on two cookbooks for healthy eaters, her own brand of healthy food products, and some nifty kitchenware.

But first, she’s working on completing the New Zeelicious website, which she’s so excited about. She believes her audience would love it, and many have been on her case about it for months.

“It’s coming guys. Just stay the course with me, OK!”, she remarks

So, I complimented her on her success and quizzed her further. I wanted to know what kept her motivated to continue expanding Zeelicious.

“My motivation is twofold; it’s not about money or popularity, even though having money is a beautiful thing. And a little adulation from happy followers is nice too. First, I’m hoping my story inspires another young girl with a dream. I want her to know she can do what she sets her mind to with humility and the grace of God”, she said.

“Second, I love to create and proffer solutions to the needs of my audience. So, everything I create (products, recipes, shows etc.) as well as the syndication of my show onto TV stations… I do to cater for and help as many people as possible”, she  added.

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