There is a Senegalese proverb that says"An empty belly has no ears."

Chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author, Pierre Thiam was raised in Dakar, Senegal, a bustling and culturally diverse metropolis on the west coast of Africa. Although he developed an interest in the culinary arts at an early age, he studied physics and chemistry from the city’s Cheikh Anta Diop University.  Thiam moved to New York in the late 1980s where he began working in a number of restaurants. His bottom-level entry steadily led upward, and by 2001 he opened his first restaurant, Yolele, a visionary African bistro in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. His second outlet, Le Grand-Dakar Restaurant followed, opening in neighboring Clinton Hill three years later; it quickly became a culinary and cultural locus for Africans from the continent and the Diaspora. Currently he owns Pierre Thiam Catering, which introduces a diverse, savvy New York clientele to contemporary interpretations of ethnic flavors; he also serves as consulting chef for a number of restaurants in the City and beyond.  


Traveling Influences My Cooking

On the global front, in 2011, as part of a State Department sponsored program, he was a participant in North Carolina Central University’s symposium on the influence of African food in Latin America. In May 2012, Thiam was a guest chef at the Havana Biennial (Cuba), and in June 2012, he received the African Travel Association’s Development of Responsible Tourism Award in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Southern Africa).  In the spring of 2013, he introduced leading figures in the culinary world to the complexity and richness of African cuisine by organizing and hosting a trip to Dakar for a dozen chefs from around the world. During the Fall of 2014, Thiam presented a menu themed around “Underutilized African Crops” in Kinshasa, for delegates of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Union (AU). In November 2014, Thiam was a guest speaker at the African Travel Association World Congress in Kampala, Uganda.


Next February, join me and the West African Research Association for an unforgettable culinary journey in Senegal, West Africa. This will be a hands-on experience--we'll be learning to prepare a number of signature West African dishes such as Ndole, Egussi, Yassa,and Thieboudienne, as well as gaining a new understanding of this part of the world. So mark your calendars for the first ten days of february 2017 and plan to come relax, enjoy the sunshine, and learn more about this important world region through its cuisine.

Feb 1 TO FEB 10, 2017