Ten over Ten is for God, Nine over Ten is for me and Eight over Ten is for the best of the best in Nigeria.
Opeyemi Famakin is a Food journalist who loves to introduce himself as the biggest food critic in Nigeria. He is a native of Ile-Ife in Osun state, Nigeria. He is the first of three children. He grew up in the Ikoyi area of Lagos state, Nigeria and a little biroad. Ope’s dad worked with the government and got posted around a lot. During one of those postings, he had to serve abroad, so his family moved there. So part of his formative years were in the US.
Ope’s mum can also be described as a foodie just Like him. As children, she took him and his siblings to a lot of restaurants both home and abroad to taste and experience different types of food and culture. They would go to a restaurant as a family, and he would ask her questions about the food like, “What the food is called, how it was made”. She fueled his interest in food journalism. She would buy him cookbooks and take him to some specific classy restaurants because she knew he cared about food.
He studied Mass Communication at UNILAG and majored in Journalism. After University, he worked as a lifestyle journalist, writing about food and sex. He worked as a journalist for a few years and became an editor early. He started working with Pulse Ng in his sophomore year, so at 23/24, he was already a senior editor. A few years later, he felt there was nothing left for him in journalism, so he switched to Advertising. He was already starting his Food Critic career at the time before even knowing that he was a Food Critic.
Come with us as we explore the journey of a man who loves to eat, take pictures of food and talk about his experiences.
YellowLyfe Mag: Have you ever been dragged on the internet?
Opeyemi Famakin: Oh yes, I am being dragged on Twitter as we speak.
YellowLyfe Mag: Right. So how are you handling that? How have you handled that in the past?
Opeyemi Famakin: In the past, there were pockets of dragging and there was space, so it didn’t really matter. However, it’s starting to affect my mental health now. It was just cruise for me till it felt like the entire country was dragging me. I mean, I have literally been dragged every week, for the past five weeks. At least three days a week, I have been dragged for different things because I have been travelling a lot and sharing both positive and negative experiences. When I make negative comments about some places, the Indigenes get mad and say, “How dare this guy say this?” A couple of weeks ago, I was in Akwa Ibom and I mentioned that there’s only one fancy restaurant in the state and it’s true, but I got dragged for that. So I said, “Whoever proves me wrong by mentioning other fancy restaurants in the state gets a sum of fifty thousand naira, the money is still in my account as we speak. Some indigenes have even threatened to beat me up. I knew some people would hate on me but I didn’t think it would be this bad. So that’s the new terrain that I am currently navigating. In the beginning, it was mostly chefs that were hating me. However, I didn’t really care about that it wasn’t doing anything for my career. Nobody in my industry can do anything to me. If a chef dislikes me, it doesn’t affect my earnings, however, giving that same chef a good review would make them seven figures.
YellowLyfe Mag: What are the steps you are taking to ensure that it doesn’t get to you as much? Like how are you prioritizing yourself and your mental health?
Opeyemi Famakin: I am a fighter, so when people drag me, I used to drag them back. However, when you have about five thousand people dragging you in a day, how many comments do you respond to? So what I do now is block and delete them. I also reduced the negative reviews but then again out of about 20 reviews, 19 are positive, and there is only one negative review. My followers are the only ones who see and share my positive reviews, Bloggers only repost the negative ones. I’m hoping and planning to stop the negative reviews but that means I would start telling lies by putting out only the positives. I don’t know how to balance it because there is nobody to look forward to in Nigeria who does it the way I do it. I wish there was someone I could speak to and seek advice from but there is no one in my field that I can talk to. It would literally be an uneducated point of view because they are not versed in my field. However, I would be able to advise younger ones because I have experience, I have made mistakes and learned from them.
YellowLyfe Mag: Do you think this has affected your brand positively or negatively?
Opeyemi Famakin: Every time people drag me on Twitter, it makes me more money. For example, a girl was dragging me on Twitter and calling me “Famasee Opeyemi”, She said she doesn’t watch my content and everybody was piling on and dragging me and I was trending as a result. Consequently, some brands who did not know who I was, got to know me, did their research and reached out. I made 1.2 million naira that day. When people drag me, I make money but I don’t want people to hate me. I am not trying to get other people to like me though, I only care about my audience. As long as my audience likes me, I don’t care about other people. Most of the people who are dragging me don’t consume my content, they have only seen the videos reposted by Blogs or Twitter users. When some Blogs post about me, whether good or bad I always feel sad because their audience are not Foodies. They follow me without conducting research or knowing who I am and start making comments like, “ Omo, you dey chop, You be thief”. I don’t need that on my page, though my followers increase but I don’t want the followers because they are just a new wave of people who don’t know who a Food Critic is. I like curious quality followers, they genuinely want to know who I am and what I am about, so they study my content. When blogs post about me, I know they are trying to be helpful but it doesn’t really work.
YellowLyfe Mag: What are some of the principles that guide you?
Opeyemi Famakin: My value is trust and honesty but Nigerians don’t like that. They say, “How dare this guy go to someone’s restaurant and say their food is not good? He is trying to ruin their business”. For instance, I reviewed some Puff Puff recently that was like 14,000 naira. This is not just an “Ope’s opinion”, it is an obvious fact that the Puff puff is too expensive. No Puff puff in Nigeria is worth 14k, everybody knows, I showed the video. When eating it, it was crunchy, Puff Puff should not be crunchy. It was hard and everyone saw it, but they were just angry, like, “How dare this guy say that this puff puff is not good?, What if it was my business now?” They don’t like the fact that I dare to do the reviews but it is the audacity that is making me richer. Nigeria has a lot of Food critics but only I dare to tell the truth, which is why I am more famous than they are. So should I stop and start saying nice things like other critics? I should say the Puff Puff is sweet and worth it, though we know it’s not worth the price. Should I be like others and blend in with the crowd or should I be my objective and honest self, stand out, make more money, and get more hits? So I’m literally at this moment navigating and trying to figure it out.
YellowLyfe Mag: What inspires you daily?
Opeyemi Famakin: It used to be Hunger, not for food though. I was hungry to be the best in my field, I wanted to be widely known for being the best Food Critic because I’m very competitive. I’m still hungry but I have gotten the things I wanted. So I don’t know what is next, I mean I will figure it out though.
YellowLyfe Mag: When you started, did you have competitors at the time?
Opeyemi Famakin: I don’t want to use the word competitors because I was like the new kid and there were like seven people who started before me. They were reviewing fancy restaurants, speaking to only one demography which is the rich people. They all did the fancy restaurants that charged 30 or 50k for dining but I couldn’t afford that. So I started reviewing street food and creating content that appealed to the masses, content that everybody could relate to. For instance, both the rich and the poor eat Akara, so I was doing content for the middle class and that was how I grew faster. Many of them used pictures but I made videos. I was different. I won’t call it competition because I was just the new guy in the industry doing my thing and I wasn’t making money then. So what am I competing for? I was just a new guy.
YellowLyfe Mag: How about now, do you have competition?
Opeyemi Famakin: I am the best in my field. Who am I competing with? Lol. No, I am not even being cocky, I have many people who are my friends in my field. It’s not an opinion that Ope is the best. It’s not like Wizkid versus Davido, those are opinions. Some would say Wizkid, while some would say Davido, but even people who hate my guts, would say, “Ope is the best in the Food industry”. Sometimes, I genuinely wish I had some competition, probably my drive would increase. I have people in my field that are very hard-working, I respect them but it’s not competition for me.
YellowLyfe Mag: Let’s talk about your style, what motivated that and how it worked for you.
Opeyemi Famakin: I am a Journalist at heart, I prefer writing to doing videos but because Nigerians do not read, I decided to switch to doing videos. I do not care about producing aesthetically pleasing videos, I only care about the content of the videos. So my video style, to me I am just lazy. I am passing a message in the video, I only care about the Content, “Is the food good?, Is the food not good? Should you go to this restaurant?”. My style is a strategy born out of laziness because I know I cannot give you a cute video. I can do it but I won’t. So that’s my style.
YellowLyfe Mag: Can you describe your journey using 5 words?
Opeyemi Famakin: In the beginning Awesome, Easy, Sweet, WTF, and now I am in the Nawa o stage. The annoying part that nobody ever tells you is that, you will make that money you want to make. You would think that as a content creator, once you start making money everything is well but that’s not true. Money doesn’t bring happiness, I am not unhappy though but this isn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t plan or see this coming.
YellowLyfe Mag: Do you have any idea what the next stage will be called?
Opeyemi Famakin: Not Nawa o. I am hoping it will be called Finally! (with a deep sigh). That is what I am hoping for. I will be on TV soon by the way. I am trying to leave the Nigerian space. Surprisingly, there is more love in Nigeria but Nigerians respect international things, so maybe when I blow, probably they would calm down and just know I am doing my Job.
YellowLyfe Mag: What else should we expect from you and your brand?
Opeyemi Famakin: I want to start travelling to other countries in West Africa, so send funds. I have been to Ghana and the Benin Republic, and now I want to go to Mali, Senegal, and Togo, so you all should send funds.
YellowLyfe Mag: Why did you choose to be a Food Critic and if you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Opeyemi Famakin: I didn’t choose to be a Food Critic. If you check my first Instagram post, it was in 2013, I had no idea what an influencer or a Food Critic was. There was neither a plan to blow nor to be an influencer. I was just that guy that liked eating and talking about Food. I think it was Maggi that made me realize that it was a thing. They reached out to me in 2019, wanting to post an Ad on my page and I was wondering why they reached out to me. I had no idea it was a niche or I could get paid for it. I had amassed about 10k followers at the time. So I charged Maggi 30k to do it because in my head it was free money. Then someone at the office reached out to me saying that I should have charged more because they had a higher budget. Then I switched to Advertising as a Brand Strategist, that’s how I knew that there’s a thing called Influencer Marketing. So I began to re-brand and re-strategize.
YellowLyfe Mag: Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
Opeyemi Famakin: Yes and No. If I wish I was nicer, and less honest because the reason I get dragged is my honesty. As a restaurant owner, there is no diplomatic way that I will say your food is not sweet that won’t piss you off. I have thought long and hard about it. However, if I were nicer that means all my reviews would be good, meaning if the restaurant is bad, I would say it is good and then people will end up wasting their money when they patronize the place. With all that I know now if I could go back in time, I would do everything exactly the same way I did it before.
YellowLyfe Mag: What would you say is the best advice you ever got?
Opeyemi Famakin: It will be from my dad, “Don’t womanize” and “Be careful with women”. According to my father, only two people can ruin my career; One is Me, while the other is a woman. However, it is better to ruin my career than a woman doing that.
YellowLyfe Mag: Earlier, you talked about Nigerians not liking your intro, tell me about that
Opeyemi Famakin: They hate it. I have been dragged on Twitter many times because of that intro. Nigerians like humble people, all these. “Who I be?, I came from the trenches, I’m not as good as you o”. They like a good underdog story because it gives them hope that if this underdog can do this, they can too. It gives them a sense of power like, “We made this man grow”. However, my intro indirectly tells them that I am not an underdog and that I don’t need your approval.
YellowLyfe Mag: What would your advice be for someone who is looking to break into your field?
Opeyemi Famakin: I would take my advice with a pinch of salt because I would give my advice based on my story and perspective. Normally, I would say, “Don’t do this for money because the money might not come” but I have content creator friends who did it for money and they are making money. I would say focus more on growing a community, to educate, and you will go far. Also, don’t copy people because you can’t beat someone at their game. Be inspired by others but don’t copy them.
YellowLyfe Mag: What is your favourite quote?
Opeyemi Famakin: You are not as good as they say you are and you are not as bad as they say you are.