Pierre Thiam
 

Pierre Thiam

Chef, Restauranteur, social entrepreneur, Culinary Ambassador

 
 
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Born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, the bustling and culturally diverse West African metropolis, Thiam pays homage to traditional West African cuisine through his thoughtful approach to food.   He is currently the Co-Founder of Yolélé Foods, a purpose-driven African food company launched in 2017 that specializes in African superfoods.  Thiam is also the Executive Chef at the celebrated Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria.  His pan-African fine dining menu brings an elevated experience of the African diaspora onto the table. Clientele includes the Who's Who of Africa including Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, the Emir of Kano and the King of Morocco

Based in New York City, Pierre Thiam Catering introduces contemporary interpretations of ethnic flavors to a diverse, savvy clientele, including UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, world renowned artist, Kehinde Wiley, and global icon, Dikembe Mutombo.

Thiam is a leading advocate for responsible tourism, as well as a spokesperson for the rich culinary history of Africa and its Diaspora. 

He has authored two groundbreaking cookbooks. His first book, Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal was a nominated finalist of the IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award as well as a Special Jury Award Winner at The Gourmand World Cookbook in Paris. It is currently featured in Cultural Expressions section at the Smithsonian’s New Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington DC

His second book, SENEGAL: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl was nominated James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook.

Thiam has been featured on numerous TV programs including Anthony Bourdain’s Parts UnknownCNN's Inside Africa and the Food Network's Iron Chef.

He has also spoken on various prominent radio shows including NPR’s "Leonard Lopate Show", “The Splendid Table” and "Here and Now" as well as Martha Stewart Living Radio. His life, career and contribution to African cooking has also been highlighted in The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, Washington PostLA TimesThe Village VoiceBoston GlobeSaveur MagazineEssence Magazine and many others.

A leading advocate for world hunger alleviation, responsible tourism as well as a spokesperson for the rich culinary history of Africa and its Diaspora, Thiam has been invited as a guest lecturer and guest chef across the globe to speak on these topics. 

Among many of his civic-minded engagements and accolades, the most notable ones include: 

  • Receiving the African Travel Association’s Development of Responsible Tourism Award in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (Southern Africa) in June 2012
  • Spokesperson for the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) “Recipes for Change” video campaign in preparation for the Paris Climate Change conference (COP21) in October 2015 
  • Receiving the Zimbabwe Chef Associations’ Medal

His never-ending passion and excitement for African culinary traditions has led him to organize AfroEats in May 2013, the first African Food and Local Products Festival in Dakar in partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of Trade and Industry.

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.  

Today, he continues to share the culinary world of West Africa with a partnership with Boston University’s West African Research Association for Tastes of West Africa, an unforgettable culinary journey in Senegal. This hands-on learning experience includes preparing a number of signature West African dishes such as Ndole, Egussi, Yassa, and Thieboudienne, and opens up the world of West Africa through its cuisine.

 
 
 
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Background

1995
CHEF DE CUISINE AT BOOM (SOHO, NYC)

 

1996
CHEF DE CUISINE AT BANG (SOUTH BEACH, MIAMI)

 

1997
CHEF DE CUISINE AT TWO ROOMS (MIDTOWN, NYC)

 

2000
OPENS YOLELE IN BROOKLYN

 

2004
OPENS LE GRAND DAKAR IN BROOKLYN

 

2009
PUBLISHES "YOLELE! RECIPES FROM THE HEART OF SENEGAL"
                                                                                                                           

“YOLELE!” IS A NOMINATED FINALIST OF THE IACP JULIA CHILD COOKBOOK AWARD

 

2010
“YOLELE!” WINS A SPECIAL JURY AWARD AT THE GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK IN PARIS, FRANCE


THIAM RECEIVES THE SUNUNET DIASPORA PRIZE FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE CULINARY ARTS OF SENEGAL IN DAKAR, SENEGAL

 

2012
THIAM RECEIVES THE AWARD FOR DEVELOPMENT OF RESPONSIBLE TOURISM BY THE AFRICAN TRAVEL ASSOCIATION (ATA) IN VICTORIA FALLS, ZIMBABWE

 

THIAM RECEIVES THE ZIMBABWE CHEF ASSOCIATIONS’ MEDAL

 

2013
THIAM IS A CONTRIBUTOR IN “10 DINNERS IN HAVANA”, BASED ON THE AMERICAN AND CUBAN CHEFS COLLABORATION DURING HAVANA BIENNIAL 2012

 

CO-ORGANIZES AFROEATS, FIRST AFRICAN FOOD AND LOCAL PRODUCTS FESTIVAL IN DAKAR IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SENEGALESE MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY

 

LAUNCHES A CULINARY TRIP TO SENEGAL INTRODUCING WITH CHEFS FROM THE US, FRANCE, CHINA, CAMEROON, COTE D’IVOIRE AND TOGO

 

2015
FEATURED CHEF AT THE UNITED NATIONS FOR THE DINNER IN COMMEMORATION OF SLAVERY, NY

 

PUBLISHES "SENEGAL: MODERN SENEGALESE RECIPES FROM THE SOURCE TO THE BOWL" 

 

CO-HOSTS DINNER WITH CARLA HALL AT FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL, NY

 

SPOKESPERSON FOR INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT (IFAD) “RECIPES FOR CHANGE” CAMPAIGN IN PREPARATION FOR PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE COP 21

 

EXECUTIVE CHEF AT NOK BY ALARA (LAGOS, NIGERIA)

 

2016
"SENEGAL" IS A FINALIST FOR THE JAMES BEARD AWARD FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL COOKBOOK

 

FEATURED ON CNN’S anthony bourdain's PARTS UNKNOWN EPISODE ON SENEGAL

 

GUEST CHEF AT REFETTORIO GASTROMOTIVA IN RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL AND JOINS  CHEF MASSIMO BOTURRA AND OTHER WORLD-RENOWNED CHEFS TO TURN LEFT OVER FOOD FROM THE SUMMER OLYMPICS INTO GOURMET MEALS FOR THE POOREST OF RIO’S RESIDENTS

 

GUEST CHEF AT UNITED NATIONS DELEGATE DINING ROOM, NY

 

THIAM'S WORK AND HIS BOOK YOLELE IS FEATURED IN THE CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS SECTION AT THE SMITHSONIAN’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE (NMAAHC)

 

GUEST CHEF AT ULTIMO 2017 AND JOINS THOMAS KELLER AND OTHER CELEBRITY CHEFS FOR A LAS VEGAS DINNER EXTRAVAGANZA

 

2017

LAUNCHES YOLELE FOODS, A PURPOSE DRIVEn AFRICAN FOOD COMPANY SPECIALIZING IN FONIO AND OTHER AFRICAN SUPERFOODS

 

featured speaker at ted global in arusha, tanzania.  talk on fonio has more than 875K views

 
 

"PIERRE THIAM REMINDS US OF WHY GASTRONOMY, WHEN IT’S AS RICH AS THIS, IS REALLY A FORM OF INTIMATE ANTHROPOLOGY."

/  ADAM GOPNIK  /