Adé Carrena, multi-talented Chef and Owner of iLéWA Foods, based in Raleigh, NC, learned a passion for sharing the stories of African women from watching her mother. Born in Benin, Africa, Adé’s mission is to bridge cultural gaps, share her home culture by curating authentic West African dining experiences, and create safe spaces for important conversation that spark healing across the diaspora. iLéWA Foods works with women entrepreneurs in Benin to source their ingredients creating a socioeconomic exchange between powerful women and global markets.
Adé remembers when she was a little girl, her mother would wake up at 5:00 in the morning and prepare them for school. There were five siblings in all. At lunchtime, they would return home from school to a beautiful spread of fragrant, delicious food. Adé says, “Sometimes I could smell the food from down the road! After school was over, we were welcomed with yet another spread for dinner. I don’t know how she did this every day! Not only was she a mother of five and a divine cook, but she was also running a boutique and small restaurant just outside our home. In my mother’s home, I understood that food could make us feel warmth, love, and belonging. I’ve tried to capture that feeling every time I enter my kitchen.
Where Adé comes from they say, “wa mi dounou.” Which means, “come share a meal with me.” At iLéWA they cherish this thought because there is nothing more special than gathering with fellow beings, nourishing our bodies, exchanging cultures, and creating memories. All through the simple act of savoring and sharing a meal. ILéWA hopes their spices inspire you to create special and delicious moments with your family.