LIFE IN BRIEF
Chef Su’ad Abubakar Zubairu, of Fulani extraction from Adamawa State. She is political science graduate and boasts of two Post Graduate Diploma in Business and Education. She was out of job for 10 years after her graduation before she jointly opened the Spicy Sweet Culinary School with her husband in Kano. Su’ad, who has trained over 350 students, believes women can stand up and carve a niche for themselves instead of depending solely on their husbands to pick the bills.
Chef Su’ad Abubakar Zubairu, of Fulani extraction from Adamawa State, was born in Yola. She grew up in Yola with her father Alhaji Abubakar Zubairu, a seasoned diplomat and a veteran civil servant who rose through the ranks until his retirement.
Chef Su’ad, alongside her husband, Alhaji Abdulsalam, jointly established the famous Spicy Sweet Culinary School in Kano in 2018. The academy metamorphosed to become the first-ever culinary academy in Kano. She is married with four kids.
I obtained my primary education from Aliyu Mustapha International School in Yola and also had my secondary education at Federal Government Girls College (FGGC), Yola. After my graduation, I went to the University of Maiduguri where I obtained BSc in Political Science. Similarly, because of my interest in business, I secured a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and Management from the University of Abuja, and another Post Graduate Diploma in Education from Sir Kashim College Maiduguri. Though I have never taught before.
I got married while I was still in the university and stayed back in Maiduguri for a while after graduation before my husband was later transferred to Lagos. Life was not easy; I struggled; I did some petty businesses but it is not as it is today. In the midst of all these, I was enrolled in a baking school in Lagos but stayed idle even after I completed my baking course. Both I and my husband have a passion for a restaurant business but we cannot afford to set up one in Lagos due to a lack of sufficient capital. Then comes the chance for me to attend a wedding ceremony in Kano. When I went to the wedding, I baked a cake for them and it was so delicious that people rallied around me asking me to teach them. I became curious and enquired whether or not there is a culinary school in Kano and they said there is none.
When I returned to Lagos, I talked to my husband that since we cannot afford a restaurant in Lagos, why not consider opening a culinary academy in Kano. Luckily for me, he bought the idea. That was how the journey started in 2018 through to what it is today. It was named Sweet and Spicy Culinary Academy.
I never worked with either government or private body in my life. In fact, it was even 10 years after my graduation that I started this culinary academy. I searched and searched for a job but to no avail.
I have a lot to count as my achievements. The biggest of all how I was able to change the life of young girls and women in Kano through what I do. So many young girls look up to me as a source of inspiration. From 2018 to date, I graduated more than 350 students apart from ITF students. ITF used to send about 80 students after an interval and summarily, I trained about 200 students through the ITF. Some non-governmental organisations used to engage my services to train empowerment beneficiaries for them. Over the years, I trained students from NGOs such as Arewa Youths Entrepreneurs and IYA.
My late mother is my best mentor and role model. May Allah have mercy on her. She mentored me in everything. Most of the culinary skills I boost of today, I learned them from her and I attended culinary schools just to have a certificate, not the training for I got the requisite training from my mother. My mum was a very good cook. In short, I can say that I inherited cooking skills from my mother and it flows in my bloodstream.
My biggest source of inspiration is my commitment to be a self-reliant woman without necessarily depending on my husband for my needs. I just want to do something to achieve lifelong goals and drive other young girls. My husband also inspired me too because he corrects me when I err and he has always been there for me.
I fear being broke without a penny in my pocket. I want to have money that I can use to cater to my immediate needs and help other people in dare need in my neighborhood. I also fear for some northern women who seem to be sleepy and idle without making an effort to help themselves and those around them because this can lead them into more or less permanent poverty in life. So, let my compatriots wake up.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM OTHER WOMEN
For me, I am friendly and I want to help other people with the little I have without being selfish or greedy. I can stand on my own without being tired.
My biggest challenge from the end of my business is COVID-19 as it is with other business. In the past, for each batch of trainees, I used to have like had 50 students in a batch. But after the outbreak of COVID-19, I used to have like two, three, and even one student in a batch. The next batch am starting on Monday with just one student. Again, some women don’t want to put their daughters through the kitchen chore properly at the right time until when they are about to take them to marital home that is when they will bring them to me to train them on how to cook. The worst part of it is that, sometimes, you will see some of them they don’t know how to even peel onion and potatoes. It is too annoying for me to see that in our girls.
Am regretting not starting my culinary academy long ago. If I had known that this is how I am going to get something into my bank, I would have started it right from the day that I finish my university without staying jobless for 10 years after my university education.
I see the culinary school in all the 36 states of the federation including the FCT in the next few years to come. Inshallah, I want to go international.
ADVISE TO WOMEN
Women especially those from the north should wake up and stop sleeping to be self-reliant. I really want to help because I don’t want to see any woman staying at home doing nothing. Do what you can get something out of it no matter how little it is. The biggest problem with the northern women is that they don’t want to start from a low background and rise through the file.