This month, Lucy Munene, talks creativity, tofu and parenting with the eclectic and charming Lynda Nyangweso.
An experience. That is how I would describe both the restaurant and this month’s interviewee. Let’s start with the restaurant which had us all floored from the moment we stepped into the second elevator that led us to the stunning INTI. The interior is a combination of plush flooring, ebony walls, maroon and pastel blue chairs lined with gold and a stunning centrepiece made up of numerous pieces of bamboo and delicate vines of maple leaves frozen in autumn colours.
Lynda showed up, demurely dressed in black trying not to break her neck as she stared at the detailed interior. Once we were done expressing our marvel at the deco, we settled in to try the Peruvian and Japanese fusion food known as Nikkei. The food all comes in sharing portions which prompted Lynda to start off the conversation with a delightful anecdote of her husband and his dislike of communal meals. In all honesty, the conversation did not properly begin until we had devoured a 6-course meal that included causa which is a potato pureed and topped with tuna, salmon, chicken and red snapper, Peruvian ceviche and a Caribbean mango ceviche that was the highlight of our dinner.
Lynda’s familiarity with some of the dishes took her down memory lane. “You know those days when you’re parents paid for everything? Well, I remember when I first tried sushi, it rocked my world. It was in Downtown Ottowa in this Japanese restaurant with wooden pallets and bamboo everywhere. I remember thinking my mum could not be spending this much on food but as soon as I had that sushi, everything changed! I started saving up every month to go back. It was worth it.”
Once all the dishes were done and we were sipping on some coffee, as a table of creatives we got what into creativity means. “To me, creativity means having the freedom to create what you feel reflects who you are,” Lynda explained. “I think it’s a dynamic thing as well because just the way who you are changes and certain opinions you might have change is the same way your creative process changes as well. The better word would evolve. Because of this, I think you need space for this evolution so I really envy people who are able to find the space to do that then have it reflected in their work then from their work and creativity you can tell where they were in their lives.”
This led us into a passionate discussion about being in a rut and trying new things. “It can be hard to change because sometimes you stick to your comfort zone and then you realise that you’re stagnating and that you’re in a rut. The worst part is that you never realise that you’re in a rut until you’re out of it and I feel like I just got out of one but that’s a great realisation to come to now that I’m 30.”
I then presented the cliche “age is just a number” phrase. “Well that’s fine and all but for me personally, I had all these goals I wanted to obtain by a certain age in terms of money and property then 30 came and I’m just looking for affordable rent now. I still feel like a kid though and my daughter likes to remind me that I’m her mother and then I remind her that my mother is our mother because I don’t feel like a complete grown-up.”
With the coffee done, I had to ask about work starting from the beginning. “I originally wanted to be a chef because my grandfather was a chef. I kinda fell into radio. It’s a dumb story because I went for The Presenter when it first came on my friend Jay Muigai wanted to audition so we went to Jaffery’s together for moral support but they wouldn’t let me enter unless I was auditioning so I agreed. We both ended up getting in then my boss saw me on it and a year after it was done, called me. I thought it was a joke but it was then I started my job in radio soon after. I always thought I didn’t have the voice for it but I hear my voice six days a week now so I got over it. When you hear your voice so much, you figure out when it sounds best so that helped as well.”
If you didn’t know by now, Lynda has a YouTube channel, Highly Unqualified. “I’m trying to get into it more consistently and I’m trying to rebrand it because I love to do more than just being a mom. Although I loved the content I was putting out it felt very one dimensional. I started to think what happens when my daughter moves out? When she does i’ll have no content! I’ll have to keep having babies for my career’s sake! So I’m trying to do more with it because I do want to be able to do more content and not be put in one category.”
By this time we had bonded because of our mutual love for food and little debate about how to make tofu taste good led us into our final discussion of the night, cooking. “I have very fond memories of my mum cooking and I think that’s why I enjoy cooking with my daughter now. She used to marinate chicken in soy sauce, ginger, honey and rosemary. I don’t know where so discovered it or how she came up with it but it’s her go-to marinade. ” This is the recipe she will try on tofu because she has tried many a time and failed (we’re hoping she will update us on whether this was successful). “I love cooking with my daughter and she enjoys it. It’s a messy affair because she is 3 but now she loves fake cooking. You’ll hear her adding ingredients as she is fake cooking. I want her to realise that cooking is not a job, its fun.”
All in all, between the foreign and familiar food, the beautiful setting and laughter, I learned that creativity is something that evolves and grows with each individual and marvelled at the fact that there are people that get to enjoy Lynda’s wit and humour on a daily basis.