My name is Jeffrey John Martyn-Dickens. Every body calls me, either Jeffrey or Martyn-Dickens. Born the youngest in a family of three children where everyone was old enough to sort himself out by the time I came, I had to make something of myself.
By 7th October 2015, exactly 23 years on this Earth, I had to put structures in place and went for the culinary name Martyn. It’s more of a persona than a name to me and one I have always admired as it sounds and feels exceptional. Martyn is beyond passionate about cooking and delivering the best of dishes made from scratch or the finest content.
Tell us about the love affair between you and food? How did it happen?
Haha, my parents keep asking…
'We sent you to the university to study psychology and work with a clinical psychologist but here you are spending most of your time reading and learning about food?'
Now I cook 90% of what they eat
My love for ‘creating’ edibles started when I was a kid with friends who appeared multi-talented and me seemingly without one. I often felt left out, my family can testify
Growing up, watching my dad and sister cook all the time I pictured myself doing things differently to make it look dapper, more commercial and of course taste better.
Like every other story starts, A hungry Jeffery at home with rice, no gravy, I was like “Why don’t I do this myself?”. Ignoring all prior advice and forewarning never to use the stove unsupervised, I got to work chopping and mixing availables.
When they came home and tasted what I thought was a masterpiece at the time all I got were positive reviews so at that moment, a psychologist would say, “I was reinforced”. I am no Gordon Ramsey and it is still a trial and error process with new ideas but I have massively improved from slavishly watching food channels to this. There are over impressive days and underwhelming ones. My fear is not that the passion will fade but that it may never materialize so all may encounter the Martyn masterpieces. A lot of effort is used to perfect my talent.
I love to try out new recipes and dishes but l love it when I get to experiment and create my own.
It is lovely to see young Ghanaians like yourself embrace their talents and their passions and just going for it.
You mentioned that you studied psychology in school, how has the transition been from studying psychology to creating and making delicious food?
Yes, I majored in psychology from the University of Ghana, I did a whole research project work on it, but it was never a waste of time. It was by faith I guess because I am also passionate about mental health especially in Ghana, and how it has been addressed. I feel like so much more can be done but truth is therapy helps those who want it not those who need it.
But when it comes to the culinary arts, that is my backbone, that is what I personally live for now, so transitioning is not as feasible as I want it. I am currently doing my national service with a clinical psychologist; I’m still learning still doing research.
5 challenges you face when it comes to Savory by Martyn?
- Doubt. Believing in myself that people would appreciate what I am doing because I know I am a better cook than most. Mainly because of the gender roles in our society, a male chef is likened to a male nurse if you get me; scarce and unappreciated. But later on, friends and strangers started telling me that “Charley, you need to create an IG page, you are really good and you need to put yourself out there”. I got over my fears, did that and the responses are great.
- Support. Initially it wasn’t there and like every young adult I had to ‘be realistic’ about my dreams. My family didn’t see it as a career choice and felt a degree must come first. But that’s past now I have their full support now.
- Culinary school. The unavailability in Ghana, the fee costs abroad and the timing are a major challenge for me. I am still searching though, no doubt about it.
- Finance. Some days I ask myself “what the heck is wrong with me?” I would buy quite expensive ingredients to make the best out of my art for people to see that… Ok I can cook. I’ve wised up, even if sweating in Accra is the cheaper option I will. Either way the pocket still suffers and my business still needs capital.
- Extensive criticism and mockery. You can turn a blind eye to it for only so long and at the right temperature the coldest ice melts. Drake said, “know yourself, know your worth”
So What’s next for you?
As I said earlier no one taught me how to cook, but when you have a talent it is your responsibility to make it your skill, that can generate income and serve a purpose in society. After my national service the plan is to go to culinary school, learn the basics on how to cater for large events, manage a kitchen and so on, from there the stars are the limit.
In the mean time there are plans to start a delivery service “Savory by Martyn”, that will provide people with quality and delicious food. You can visit my IG page (@martynndickens_) for a sight into my future. I have catered to some events providing juicy sandwiches, whole burgers dressed with all manner of sauces and crunchy salads. I believe that the addition of the delivery service will make my products widely available to the general public.
The last thing I want to share is that… I believe that everybody should be able to cook that one thing they enjoy eating. On your own, prepare something without having to go the restaurant to pay for it and just do you.
This is Savory by Martyn
Roast lamb with Rigatoni pasta salad ….
Mini beef burgers
Hot dog Stir fry with spicy butter baked potatoes
Mac and chees with a mushroom and parsley ground beef creame sauce.
Turkey ham sandwich
Brownies with a chocolate sauce