Chef Pierre Thiam‘s career is currently in full swing. With the release of his latest cookbook “ Senegal Modern Recipes from the Source to the Bowl” we decided to delve into his creative mind to discover the man behind the dishes, and the response to African cuisine from different audiences so far.
When did your love for cooking begin?
It first began with a love for food, since my mom and aunts were great cooks. Being from Senegal, cooking was not an option for a young boy because food was a gender based activity. However, I was fortunate to have a Godfather of Vietnamese origin and I would spend my summers at his home. He was an amazing cook and the first man I ever saw in the kitchen.
What do you think has contributed to your success?
Living in New York without forgetting my roots… that desire to share my culture.
What inspired you to get your books published?
I was convinced that there was a need for such a book, so I wrote it.
How is the response to African cuisine?
The response is constantly growing. People are more conscious and African food is offering a healthy alternative.
Have you had any international responses to your work?
Indeed! I get requests in several countries.
What challenges do you face in achieving your goals in publishing and being a chef?
Time is a big challenge. I feel like I need to clone myself in order to achieve my goals.
From your experience, what would you probably tell your younger self?
Be fearless and go with the flow.
You said travel inspires your cooking. So, what is your favorite part of Africa?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. I have yet to visit an African country that I didn’t fall in love with. I just returned from Lagos and I had an awesome experience. Last year, I visited Uganda and Congo and both places were uniquely beautiful and inspiring. The same thing happened to me in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa to name a few. In addition to the beauty, Africa is blessed with a great tradition of hospitality.
And your favorite food?
Nigerians call it Okro Soup, but in Senegal we call it Soupou Kanja. In New Orleans it is known as Gumbo.
What ingredient do you love adding to every dish, if you have any?
I am a sucker for okra. Grilled, fried, roasted or simply blended in a stew.
What should we expect from you in the near future?
I am presently opening a restaurant in Victoria Island (Lagos). It’s going to be a part of a great and visionary concept store called Alara. I am also doing several guest appearances related to my new book release.
What advice would you give anyone wishing to follow your footsteps?
Roll up your sleeves and go for it!
My thoughts on Chef Thiam’s latest book:
The book is very well written. You experience the tastes, sounds and life in Senegal. It is a wonderful addition to any ” foodie” or cultural enthusiast’s book collection – the perfect Christmas gift!
The book can be purchased from your local bookstore or Amazon.
Catch Chef Thiam’s latest media tour on the Today Show ( NBC, USA)
Photo Credits: Evan Sung