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Sylvia Turns Entrepreneur With African Restaurateur

Submitted by West Africa Cooks on Tue, 2017-03-07 22:48
My African Hob

Science graduate Sylvia Browne partners up with a top west end London restaurateur to launch a new African supperclub called My African Hob.

Growing up as a kid in Sierra Leone and emigrating to England in her youth, Sylvia had always enjoyed the West African cuisine and culture of her homeland. Completing two science degrees gave her a deep insight into nutrition, diets and healthy eating. This supperclub emerged as a union of her passion for showcasing Africa and healthy living. Long term Sylvia hopes to turn this venture into a profitable business which can bring in a serious income for herself.

Read Sierra Leone Diet: Local Names

My African Hob Vision Comes To Life

East London based Sylvia is now morphing into the life of an entrepreneur and businesswoman as her vision comes to life.

“I am thrilled that I can team up with the top young restaurateur Suzanne Tiega (Restaurant manager at Nando's and previously Garfunkel's) who is an expert in customer service. We promise a warm welcome, an evening of African celebration and full flavour from Sierra Leone.”

“African dining is growing and gaining momentum every year. Now is the time to launch this supperclub. There is a hunger for culture from the continent of my birth. I see this coming from the second, third generation Africans and British foodies. I have been lucky to meet Suzanne who comes from Cameroon, she will help me launch this first event. She is a star at meeting and greeting front of house who will raise the bar in African customer service.” says Sylvia

Entertaining You And Your friends

The brand My African Hob and idea is to provide excellence in our food. We say delicious innovation and execution. This is to be combined with great personable service that will make the guest feel good about the African experience. My African Hob wishes to deliver this consistently and our guest will value our service, recommend to friends.

The first suppeclub will take place in Hammersmith, West London. Authentic dishes that are tasty, nutritious and healthy is coming our way. Sylvia will serve Akara, Skewered roast beef and Black eyed beans stew so expect a shake up the African food market.

Also expect energy, sharing and passion. We aim for feedback relating to our motto “leave happy and full belly; long for the next event.”

Read Three Reasons Why You Should Start An African Supper Club

Questions And Answers

Here is a q&a from Sylvia Browne, the Sierra Leonean chef who founded My African Hob

How did it start?
Frustration by the lack of African restaurants (particularly good quality ones) and the difficulty in obtaining tasty and fulfilling home cooked African meals when desired. Also knowing that African food deserved to be on the same platform as other world cuisines, with its vibrant, flavoursome and versatile dishes.

Where are your family from?
Sierra Leone. My parents studied in Glasgow in the seventies, moved back to Freetown and then settled in London in the early 1990s. I was born in Sierra Leone and moved to the UK at the age of 11.

What African country do you visit the most and why should other people visit that country?
I haven’t travelled to Africa in a while but look forward to doing so when my schedule allows. The African countries at the top of my list right now are Ghana, Nigeria, The Gambia, Uganda and Egypt. I’ve heard great things about the culture, food and scenery in all these countries and look forward to experiencing it first-hand.

What food do you cook?
Well of course I love cooking Sierra Leonean food as this brings back fond memories of my childhood. From jollof rice to fish balls and beans akara. I also love palava sauces like spinach, bitter leaves and cassava leaves (a Sierra Leone favourite).

How did you perfect the taste of recipes?
Practice, practice and more practice! I try various recipes several times and tweak them until I get the result I want. I also find gems in cookbooks, food shows and recipe videos on YouTube, all of which have helped me develop my cooking skills.

What’s your favourite African dish?
Wow that’s a tough one. I can’t say that I have a particular favourite as there’s so much I enjoy. And also it really depends on a number of things: the time of day, the weather, the mood I’m in, my appetite in the moment and so on.

But, as I’m thinking about it, a few of the favourites that jump out at me are: plasas dishes like potato leaves and crain crain (jute leaves), egusi based sauces like bitter leaves and shakpa (sorrel leaves) and good old tomato stew. Tomato stew goes great with everything; rice, eba, pounded yam and all of the others.

So no particular favourite as there’s so much yumminess to choose from!

How did you come up with the brand name My African Hob?

I wanted to have the word ‘Africa’ as part of the name to clearly signify that I cook mainly African cuisine. My best friend then came up with ‘My African Hob’. We thought that the word ‘hob’ communicated cooking as well as a space for all things to do with African food.

My goal is to make My African Hob a space where people can come to for African food recipes, learn about the health benefits of African food and of course enjoy a home cooked African meal.

What sort of obstacles have you come across whilst trying to realise your dream?
Not much so far. I have been fortunate to build a network of food enthusiasts and business owners who have provided useful advice and support at the early stages of my start-up. One thing I have noticed though is that there are few platforms that promote African food and a lot of people don’t know much about African cuisine, including many Africans; so turning that around and educating the world about our wonderful cuisine is quite a task, but with patience and persistence, I’m confident that it can get done.

Any chefs or cooks you look up to?
My mother.

With a background in Catering and Management, Mom has a knack for turning simple ingredients into tasty satisfying dishes and she is always the first person I turn to whenever I am looking for cooking tips.

Can you recommend any African cookbooks?
All Nigerian Recipes by Flo Madubike and Foods of Sierra Leone and other West African countries by Rachel Massaquoi are at the top of my list to buy. Flo has a YouTube channel and blog on Nigerian foods and one thing I like about her is that she is not afraid to try things outside the box.

Do you have a recipe we can share?
Roast beef kebab, a classic Sierra Leonean party dish always goes down well with everyone. This is also on the menu for my inaugural Supper Club event in April.

Ingredients

  • 500g cubed beef
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ medium onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ scotch bonnet pepper
  • 1 ½ tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme (fresh thyme can also be used if available)
  • 1 sweet pepper - cut into cubes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Steam the meat with a small amount of water and ½ tsp. salt for about 25 min
  2. In the meantime, squeeze the lemon juice into a blender and use the juice to blend ½ an onion, garlic and scotch bonnet pepper
  3. Add the peanut butter and tomato puree and continue to blend until the mixture turns into a thick paste. (Add a small amount of water or more lemon to help the bending process if needed)
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to blend
  5. Pour the mixture over the meat and use your hand to thoroughly rub over the meat till it is well saturated
  6. Leave the mixture to marinate for at least two hours then place in skewers interspersed the with the sweet peppers and the remaining onion (if using)
  7. Grill for 15- 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Enjoy!

Read Three Reasons Why You Should Document Your African Recipes

The Menu For My African Hob Foodie Supperclub Event In April 2017

The Menu and Drinks

  • Welcome Drink Ginger Beer (Ve) - A favourite at Sierra Leonean parties

Desserts

  • Starter Banana akara (Ve)
  • Sierra Leone style banana fritters served with homemade pepper sauce

Mains

  • *Skewered roast beef kebab with spicy Couscous
  • Succulent beef cubes marinated in peanut sauce, grilled with onions and sweet peppers
  • Black eyed beans stew with roasted Sweet Potatoes (Ve)
  • Traditional vegetarian stewed beans cooked in a tasty tomato sauce

Desserts

  • Pear Tart (V)
  • With vanilla ice cream

*This dish contains nuts.
Ve (Vegan) V (vegetarian)

For further information please email Sylvia Browne info@myafricanhob.com and visit My African Hob
Follow Restaurateur Suzanne Tiega on Linkedin Suzanne Tiega Minvielle and twitter@suzannetiega