Loughborough Alumni

Our alumni

Lopè Ariyo

Chef, food blogger and author

Lopè Ariyo has recently been named one of The Guardian’s “Rising Stars of 2017”. Having graduated in 2016, Maths alumna Lopè has already written her own cookbook, Hibiscus, which is now available online. As a food blogger, author and upcoming chef, Lopè tells us about her time at Loughborough, winning a book deal and fusing Nigerian and European cuisines.

Why did you choose to study Mathematics at Loughborough University?

I wanted to study Computer Science but I didn’t get the grades I needed. Maths was my second choice and had been another one of the subjects I enjoyed during A-levels. I chose to go to Loughborough as I felt there were quite a lot of extra-curricular activities on offer.

How has Loughborough University inspired you?

I think being at Loughborough University has definitely taught me the importance of perseverance. It’s also given me the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life and so I know as long as I’m willing to network no one or no thing is beyond reach.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, what impact did these have on your experience?

A lot more than I probably should have. To summarise breifly:

Department Life -  Student Involvement Officer, Department Chair, Department Students’ Federation President

Action - Action Volunteer, Committee Member (Young Persons Officer)

Education – Student Rep

Welfare and Diversity - Ethnic Minorities Officer

I think because I was so involved I got to shape my experiences and have more say in what I and people like me would actually want to do. It also meant I got to meet a lot of great people that I’m still friends with now. 

What made you decide to enter the cookery competition hosted by Red and HarperCollins?

I had a lot of friends who I’d cooked for suggesting they’d like to see me go for it and I had nothing to lose - so it made sense.

What have been your inspirations for your recipes?

My heritage and my experiences growing up. I’m British-Nigerian, so growing up I ate a combination of foods.

What is your favourite thing to cook and will this recipe appear in ‘Hibiscus’?

I don’t have a favourite thing to cook but I do like recipes that are full of flavour and make me go “mmm”. There’s more than enough of those in Hibiscus.

What has been the most challenging element of becoming an author of your cookbook, and how have you overcome this?

Making sure each recipe was unique. Surprisingly meeting deadlines wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and it’s most likely a student habit I’ve picked up. It did feel like I was writing a dissertation.

How did it feel to be named one of The Guardian’s “Rising Stars of 2017”?

Shocking! I think it’s very easy to down play how good you are at something but to have it confirmed by a national newspaper can really help solidify your confidence.

How do you plan to work to promote your new cookbook and original recipes to the wider market?

I’ll be doing a series of supper clubs, cooking demos and pop-up food stalls. As well as appearances at food festivals and other panels. A lot of what I do at the moment is making online recipe content so I’ll probably be doing even more of that.

Where do you see yourself going in the future?

Although I’m already considered a chef I would like some formal training and then from there I’d like to have my own restaurant.

Find out more about Lopè’s Guardian success in our news story and read about her recipes and new book online

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