Part of being a trailblazer is filling a gap where you see lack. For chef and Alabama State University graduate Obi Oti, what was missing was good southern cooking on the west coast. Determined to bring back flavors from his own parents’ shuttered restaurant, Oti is now finding his own success in the kitchen.

Before he discovered cooking was something he was good at, it was the ambition of Obi’s parents that opened his eyes.

“It all started in 2007 when when my parents opened up a soul food restaurant in Huntsville, Alabama,” Obi reminisced. “It was doing good but unfortunately the business started to suffer and eventually we had to close our doors due to the recession of 2008 and my father falling ill…”

Determined to carry on his parents’ legacy, Obi fostered his talent. He went from just cooking general dishes for friends and his Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers at Alabama State, to getting pretty good at grilling. He became a legend at the grill among his LA friends once he eventually moved to California.

“People wouldn’t know my name, and they would just call me ‘the BBQ man,’” he laughed. “Grilling turned into me creating, and recreating dishes in the kitchen. I started competing and I was winning. So I decided to take this skill to a higher level.”

Fast forward to 2021, and Obi has gathered all his favorite southern recipes, and rolled them up into a business plan. He thoughtfully named the now limited liability company “Krunches” as an ode to his parents’ old restaurant.

Garlic lamb chops with eggs and mushrooms (Courtesy of Krunches)

“I will carry the legacy of Krunches and prove to them that they didn’t fail,” he said proudly. “Their legacy will live on forever, through me. I’m doing this for them.”

Obi’s business is gaining traction, but lifting it off the ground wasn’t easy. He struggled with discovering which exact permits and licenses he needed to conduct business in the state of California. There were numerous applications, sacrifices, and sleepless nights. He ultimately opened his business in the middle of the pandemic.

Nevertheless, Obi’s work is not in vain, as there is actually a high demand for comfort food in Los Angeles despite its culture of healthy eats. There aren’t many eateries that specialize in homemade bourbon glaze like Krunches. In fact, Obi’s bourbon glaze shrimp mac n’ cheese has won multiple awards over the last few years! 

“The thing that sets me apart from the rest is my uniqueness in my food and the flavor,” he said. “I combine sweetness with the love of savory for a mouth full of undeniable flavors. My bourbon glaze is something you don’t see everyday and people love and want me to bottle it up.”

Our mouths are watering! If yours is too, choose Krunches the next time you or your small event guests are looking for mouth-watering southern cuisine.

Bourbon glazed stuffed salmon with shrimp (Credit: Krunches)