Hyde Park couple's AYO Foods, featuring West African cuisine, coming to Chicago-area Mariano's soon

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Saturday, February 13, 2021
Hyde Park couple's West African food coming to Mariano's soon
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A Hyde Park couple is trying to diversify the frozen food section, with West African-inspired AYO Foods.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pretty soon, you could find a taste of West Africa in the frozen food section at your nearest grocery store.

A local company is adding AYO, which means Joy in Yoruba, to stores in the Chicago area with their dishes.

The product is the dream of one Chicago couple.

The Hyde Park power couple is making moves diversifying the frozen food industry with the West African cuisine that Perteet Spencer grew up eating.

"We really want to create a platform with AYO that creates an opportunity to celebrate a population that has been overlooked in the mainstream grocery stores," Spencer said.

Frederick Spencer agreed.

"I am one of those people, if you have an idea, put it on the paper and go for it," he said.

RELATED: Hyde Park couple's AYO Foods celebrates West African cuisine

Their company, AYO Foods, offers several dishes from Jollof Rice to Cassava Leaf Stew.

"It was really important for us to do these recipes justice and make sure that we were using authentic ingredients and flavors," Perteet said.

For the first time you will soon be able to find AYO Foods at a grocery store in the Chicago area. Mariano's will be offering their frozen dishes.

"We are in Whole Foods across the south, and we are really excited to be launching Mariano's locally here in Chicago in the next couple of weeks," Perteet said.

Frederick said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in their product from supermarket chains trying to cater to more people dining at home.

"Grocery stores have seen that they need the diversity on the grocery store and grocery aisle," he said. "So we have been even approached by a lot of the larger retailers."