In our series Office crush, we ask people with the coolest jobs to bring us to work. Next, Kiano Moju, the founder of the culinary creative studio Jikoni Creative, takes us through a day of African dance parties, family dinners in the office, and lunchtime walks through downtown LA
“My North Star,” says Kiano Moju, “is doing my job with integrity and knowing what tastes good.” The 30-year-old former BuzzFeed food producer founded Creative cuisine in 2019 in this sense. As a multi-hyphen approaching the culinary world through many lenses, from recipe development to video production to photography, Moju decided to build a studio to house all of their activities. In Jikoni’s bright room in Downtown LA, she and her team create and advise branded food content, organize events, develop recipes and rent out their kitchen studios on site for photo and video recordings.
Although the business hit its breakthrough in early 2020, the studio was temporarily closed due to the pandemic and didn’t reopen until September. The always bubbly Moju was intrepid. Together with her team, she steered her drive into new virtual projects like that of Jikoni Community recipe pagewho sources dishes from a global community of foodies and brings them to life through interviews and step-by-step videos.
The company addressed one of Moju’s key missions: to celebrate traditionally underrepresented voices and cultures in the food media. Growing up between Oakland and Kenya, she was often confronted with blank eyes when talking about the cuisine of her heritage. “I hate to talk about the food of sub-Saharan Africa as a monolith, but that is how big the gap in culinary knowledge of this region is in other parts of the world,” she explains. Throughout her career, Moju has fought to highlight marginalized food cultures and opposed the all-too-common practice of putting the spotlight on holidays or cultural months.
When I first got in touch with Kiano in June 2020, Jikoni’s single kitchen area had gone dark. Ten months later, four colorful, crowded studios and an ever-growing team are added. At her desk in the airy test kitchen, Moju chatted about running meetings, the normalization of everyday work and the favorite food of her team.
Early in the morning with French breakfast tea and eggs
I sleep with the blinds open and I have so much energy when I wake up, which is usually between 6:30 am and 7:30 am. Morning is the best time to eat in my opinion, and I always make myself a hearty meal. My favorite is sauteed spinach with a clove of garlic and a few scrambled eggs; Toast on the side when i have it.
Tea is my unusual pleasure. I drink either matcha with a little honey or black tea with a dash of milk. The French breakfast tea from Mariage Frères is my favorite – it comes in this black box with gold on the inside that lights up at you. When I treat myself to something at the beginning of the day, I feel like I’m on clouds.
Moju makes green curry for her team.
More dancing, less crunches
Depending on the day, I do 15 minutes of fitness – I can’t do more at home or I get incredibly disinterested. I have this mirror recently because it is used as a decoration; I didn’t like the idea of having bulky fitness equipment in my apartment. Instead, I might do some dance videos on YouTube; My favorites are YouTubers from LA LA The fitness marshal. They are easy to understand but always have a comedic tone. I tend to take classes that are fun, I don’t like feeling tormented while training.
African house music
If I don’t have to be in the studio early for a shoot, I’ll be there around 10 a.m. The office is in our test kitchen and whoever comes first knows that he is Playlist on. We have morning bursts of dance and for a boost of energy on Friday I’ll get mine Wakanda Lineup with African house artists like Burna Boy and WizKd. My top track on the list is “Come We Bill Ehh” by Midas the Jagaban.