Here is a q&a from Carine Ottou, the Cameroonian chef who founded Inspiring Chefs, co-hosting the sold out *Soul Makoss a pop-up at The Pill Box in Bethnal Green with **Eat Off The Menu.
Where are your family from?
I was born in Cameroon and moved to France at age 14.
What African country do you visit the most and why should other people visit that country?
Cameroon my homeland is by all mean my most visited country in Africa. But I am hoping to extend my trips to Senegal, Kenya and South Africa. Countries I have been the most fascinated by for their cultural and geographical position in Africa.
Read Ndolé Day - Cameroon
What food do you cook?
My food is really varied; influenced by the many countries I have visited but there is always a touch of my homeland. This, through the various spices and the absolute need to cook the freshest ingredients; avoiding processed food at all cost.
Where can I find your recipes? Best way to access my recipes is to book a one to one cooking class with me and experience a dip dive rollback to the dishes of my childhood; their cultural influence and nutritional & alternative diet that you can blend to your day to day healthy habits.
How did you perfect the taste of recipes?
I started cooking at a very early age but I can't really say I was passionate about it back then. But over the years, I learned to appreciate what was thought to me. I learned to appreciate the true flavour; the traditional way of cooking. Although my cooking style as a more contemporary at time, what guides me with my techniques is the knowledge accumulated with the way traditional food are cooked. I hate cutting corners for instance.
What’s your favourite African dish?
I have many the peanuts soup; O'kok (a Cameroonian dish done with leaves; peanuts paste and palm soup); sangha; Bongo tchoby; Yassa (Senegalese). All of which I have plans to introduce to a broader audience.
How did you come up with the brand name Inspiring Chefs?
Inspiring Chefs is my baby, I started developing the idea a bit more than 6 years ago now. It is a platform where chefs and cooks like me can share their passion and culinary heritage. It is a platform where I want people to feel inspired. Inspired to cook; learn and share their culinary heritage.
What sort of obstacles have you come across whilst trying to realise your dream? You never stop facing obstacles. .. the market is saturated with talented people which like me, have a lot to offer. But my biggest challenge was to face what I truly wanted to achieve. This, didn't correlate with what I was doing then. I had to make life changing decisions such as quitting the corporate world and well paid job to pursuit my dream. I made some conscious change with my life style and embrace a more natural world for me and my family.
Can you recommend any African cookbooks?
I have some cook books but clearly this is something that is lacking. Perhaps something I could take on board at some stage to publish.
Follow Carine Ottou the Cameroonian chef and her business
Book a Class with a Chefs and get Inspired at Inspiring Chefs
West-African-Inspired Sauces, Marinades And Dips can be ordered by visiting marielittlejar.co.uk
*Soul Makossa. A Cameroonian foodie secret was a supperclub event in January 2017 the following was on the menu.
The Tasting Menu and Drinks
- Matango Welcome Shot Drink
- Corn and Banana Beignets Served with Marie Little Jar, MLJ Spicy Sauces
- Roulade of Flat Fish, Cassava and banana Pancake, Braised Wild Garlic, MLJ Sauce (Cassava and Banana Pancake, Papaya Salsa, Wild Garlic JUS MLJ Sauce)
- Shot of Cold Iced Ginger Juice
- Tomato Confit, African Basil, Egusi Crumble, Roasted Cassava
- Cold Smoked Chicken; Peanuts Soup, Fragrant Rice
- Braised Beef on Cassava Buns and Sauteed "Folong", Crispy Salad
- Bissap Drink
- Grilled Pineapple
- Brioche Perdu, Spiced Crumble Chocolate Mousse
Also visit www.eatoffthemenu.com
**Eat Off the Menu is a kick starter concept that gives a little buzz to an average restaurant. Alex Mih, the brains behind the concept and his team work with chefs all over London, meaning that with Eat Off the Menu, the chefs have all been vetted, they are passionate new cooks who want to make a name for themselves.