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From Nigerian Roots to Minnesota Cuisine: The Inspiring Journey of Kafayat Abodunrin

Food is a bridge that connects people, across cultures and generations. For Kafayat, food was how she connected with her mother and grandmother. Born and raised in Nigeria, Kafayat's love affair with food began early, nurtured by her family's rich culinary traditions. Today, she's the proud owner of 3DS African Kitchen, a burgeoning restaurant in Minnesota, where she brings a taste of her heritage to eager palates.

Kafayat’s entrepreneurial journey started young when her mother signed her up for beading lessons while she was in primary school. She decided to sell her beadwork to her classmates, family, neighbors and customers at her mother’s salon. As the sales of belts, purses, and shoes increased, she even taught the skill to those who wanted lessons. Her entrepreneurship spirit was further fostered when her mother encouraged her to cook and sell her food to customers from the salon premises. She started by making simple rice porridge and her passion was very well received. These early ventures of being a business owner left a deep impression on Kafayat and she grew up with a clear understanding of wanting to someday be a full-time entrepreneur. 

After eight years in the banking sector, Kafayat faced a pivotal moment when her husband proposed relocating to the United States. Embracing the opportunity for a fresh start, they embarked on a journey that would lead them to Minnesota, where Kafayat took her first flight and planted the seeds of her culinary career. Kafayat’s grandmother owned a restaurant in their hometown in Nigeria and was a pivotal figure in Kafayat’s life, fueling her passion for cooking and food. She distinctly remembers helping her grandmother cook while visiting and then recreating those recipes on her own when she went back home. Some of Kafayat’s fondest childhood memories revolve around the time spent in the kitchen, cooking up delicious meals to share with her family. She took those memories and teachings to carefully craft the dishes that would be highlighted on the menu of her catering venture. 

From cooking out of her apartment kitchen to moving to her own house, as her catering business grew Kafayat recognized that the time had come to move her business to a dedicated brick and mortar location. Despite facing challenges, including a global pandemic and a health setback that required surgery, Kafayat's determination never wavered. Supported by her husband and a network of loved ones, she pressed forward, refusing to let setbacks derail her dreams.

One of the biggest barriers to achieving her dreams was acquiring funding capital. In the face of financial hurdles, Kafayat found solace in the unwavering support of her community. She got connected to Denise Butler, the associate director of African Career Education & Resources, inc. (ACER, inc.). ACER was able to provide Kafayat with crucial guidance and resources through the Technical Assistance Program, helping her navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship. With this assistance fueling Kafayat’s resilience, she was able to finally purchase a space for her restaurant, 3DS African Kitchen. 

Kafayat recognizes that while the United States is a place where many dream of launching their entrepreneurial journeys, the system is not always set up for success. She believes that it is harder for people of color to navigate the system as they simply aren’t set up with keeping the community in mind. She is grateful for the support she has received from the Technical Assistance program and the community she has built, without which her dreams may have taken longer to become reality. Amidst the triumphs and tribulations, Kafayat remains deeply grateful. From her faith to her family and mentors, she acknowledges the invaluable support that has propelled her forward, shaping her journey into one of resilience and hope.

Looking ahead, Kafayat's priorities center on expanding her brand and sharing her culture through food. With a committed team by her side, she aims to elevate her restaurant's presence, welcoming patrons to experience the flavors of Nigeria in every bite.

Kafayat Abodunrin’s story is more than a tale of culinary ambition—it's a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who dare to chase their dreams. From her humble beginnings in Nigeria to the bustling kitchens of Minnesota, Kafayat's journey serves as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and food enthusiasts alike, reminding us that with dedication and resilience, anything is possible. 

3DS African Kitchen is located at 117 Willow Bend, Crystal, MN 55428. To follow more of Kafayat's journey, make sure to check out her website, Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok.

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