When Chef David Ifidon decided to open a restaurant four years ago, he knew he wanted a location that had a need for a welcoming-yet-upscale, made-from-scratch kitchen.
Upon moving to Forsyth County in May 2014, he realized that Cumming was the perfect location for his passion for food to be offered to the public. Forsyth seemed to him to be a place with a need for a contemporary, stylish eatery.
“We had to have the restaurant in a place that needed what we were providing,” Ifidon said. “The restaurant was going to not quite be fine dining, but be kind of a nicer yet more casual place where everything is made from scratch. We moved into the Forsyth County area about two years ago, and every time we wanted to go eat, we had to travel. We had been looking for space for four years, and then we stumbled into this location.”
His restaurant, i4food Restaurant and Bar, opened on June 3 at 5456 Bethelview Road in Cumming after Ifidon spent almost a year and a half perfecting the restaurant’s space and its specialized menu.
The chef said he wanted a restaurant that would showcase his love for food and focus on new American cuisine.
Every item on the menu — down to the whipped cream on the desserts — is made from scratch, and the menu is small to ensure that each item is well-crafted.
“The restaurant’s focus is the food,” Ifidon said. “The name is a play on ‘an eye for food,’ because the passion is great and consistent food.
Some other restaurants may have things we offer on our menu, but the difference is the flair and the twist with which we present it, and also the detailed preparation and very distinctive flavors.”
The menu offers everything from homemade appetizers like fried green tomatoes with roasted red pepper sauce, goat cheese and a crust that holds together even when sliced through to entrees like seafood-stuffed salmon with Yukon gold whipped potatoes and white wine sauce.
The restaurant also offers a made-from-scratch kids’ menu, a full bar and an assortment of desserts.
Desserts are a special focus for Ifidon, and he encourages visitors to save room to try his rich New York cheesecake with strawberry sauce or the toasted pound cake with vanilla ice cream and berries.
“I’m very passionate about dessert because I feel like dessert is the last course,” Ifidon said. “It’s almost like closing the deal, and I do all the desserts from scratch. The desserts are big enough so people can share one and try it out.”
“There’s a lot of love involved in the food”
Ifidon, originally from Nigeria, said his heritage gave him a love for flavor and seasoning. This background of a passion for ingredients and recipes led to his interest in joining the food industry and encouraged him to take a job at a restaurant many years ago.
“I’ve been in the food industry for about 28 years,” Ifidon said. “When I was in college, I needed a job, so I worked under a chef in a restaurant. I was fascinated with what you can do with food. Since I like to eat, I just worked and worked and got interested and pursued it.”
Ifidon’s natural talent in the kitchen, as well as his passion for food and years of experience, make i4food an interesting addition to the Forsyth County area.
With the abundance of larger, more casual dining experiences available to locals, i4food stands out as a nicer and more intimate restaurant option.
The restaurant’s atmosphere is relaxing, with jazz music and white tablecloths for adults —but also with coloring sheets and crayon-friendly butcher paper table coverings for children.
The quality of the food, as well as the upscale, family-friendly atmosphere, has given i4food a successful first seven weeks of business since the opening.
Ifidon said customers have been supportive of the new business and have enjoyed the unique new restaurant.
“We have done barely any marketing, mainly word of mouth,” Ifidon said. “When people come in they are very strong about wanting us to stay in business. They help us out by telling other people about us or telling their neighbors or posting about us on Facebook. The response has been incredible.”
Ifidon’s current focus is on building the customer base for i4food and creating relationships for the restaurant with local ingredient sources.
The chef said he wants i4food to be a place where people come to celebrate a birthday, meet friends at the bar or have a date night.
To Ifidon, the most important aspect of his job at i4food is the experience given to the customer through great service, a welcoming atmosphere and incredible food, of course.
“We cook with tremendous passion and a lot of love,” he said. “So when you come out there’s a lot of love involved in the food you’re eating. We just want people to come and try us out, and they will not be disappointed.”