Chef, restaurateur and author Pierre Thiam is on a mission with the release of his second book, “SENEGAL – Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl,” to showcase the cuisine and his beloved country in a way that the world has never seen before. The New York-based chef spent years traveling back and forth across the Atlantic so that readers would be transported into Senegal’s rich history, culture and multifaceted cuisine. This is easily done through the beautiful pages that are filled with more than 75 recipes that come along with an intimate look at the people who are also helping to put the cuisine on the map.
“It is the same cuisine that influenced the best part of American cuisine which is southern cuisine, which is the cuisine of Latin America when you look at the cuisine of New Orleans or Carolina’s Low Country. It is all very similar to the cuisine of Senegal. When I say Senegal, I mean West Africa,” says Thiam. “People do have misconceptions about our cuisine and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to write this book to dispel the myths. African cuisine is familiar comfort food with ingredients you are familiar with and can find at your local supermarket; rice, beans, sweet potatoes, eggplant, okra, black-eyed peas, peanuts. All of these ingredients you will find in our cuisine.”
Senegalese Cuisine in the Spotlight Once Again
In his first book, Yolele!, Thiam shared a personal account of who inspired his culinary journey from his parents to all the women in his family. SENEGAL now takes you out of his family’s village in Dakar and into various parts of the country where everything comes full circle. “The idea is that it [the new book] would be a continuation of the first book. The first book was more intimate about my family and taking the reader to the village of the women of my family who really inspired the cooking so you can see them throughout the book. Now this new book is going a step further, I am meeting the [food] producers, I introduce farmers, I introduce fishermen, I introduce the food from entrepreneurs and tell their story in the book. The book has a little more than the first book. It takes you there [to Senegal] and also introduces a modern take on the cuisine as well,” share Thiam.
The book is complemented with a film that follows Thiam through his process of writing the book so that readers can not just read about it but visually be right there with him. The film is due out in a few weeks.
As a culinary ambassador spreading the news about the goodness of West African cuisine, Thiam is also scheduled to open a restaurant in Brooklyn in the near feature that will bring many of the book’s recipes or the essence of them to life. In addition, the space will double as a marketplace where he will import and sell traditional West African foods such as fonio and red palm oil through another upcoming venture called Yulee Foods, making the products accessible to this part of the world.
As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate, Thiam is also partnering with one of Nigeria’s prominent businesswomen, Reni Foldaway, to open a restaurant that will reside with the new development, Alarm. The project is due to open this December in Lagos and will be a luxury retail space with eventually two adjacent buildings and a garden. Internationally recognized Ghanaian-British architect David Adjure is leading the project. His design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in D.C. is due to open next year. The buzz about Alarm is already spreading. Combining art, design, fashion and food, Thiam says, “My menu will be reflecting the vision of the concept store. So the cuisine will be inspired by the food of the Diaspora and it will travel from Nigeria of course throughout West Africa all the way to Brazil.”
Events are currently being scheduled throughout New York as Thiam plans to start promoting the book. Mark your calendar and purchase your tickets to see him alongside “The Chew’s” Carla Hall at this year’s NYC Wine & Food Festival on October 16 as they team up for a special dinner.