"The continent of Africa has such a diverse food offering" say Zoe Adjonyoh who at the forefront of shaking things up in the UK foodie scene has now published a cook book called Zoe's Ghana Kitchen.
Raising The Profile Of African Food
Zoe's aim is to bring Ghanaian flavours and ingredients to the masses; to raise the profile of African food in the UK and world. She like to say it's Ghana Be Tasty. Read a question and answer from Zoe Adjonyoh.
When and why did you start Zoe's Ghana Kitchen?
Zoe's Ghana Kitchen started as a one off opportunity to sell food to hungry people at a time when there wasn't much of a food offering in Hackney Wick. A lot of bodies descended in the summer of 2010 during Hackney Wicked Arts Festival - an open studio arts festival... The response was so positive that I decided to re-create a restaurant in my home during the same festival the following year and called it Zoe's Ghana Kitchen. It was incredible fun and created a social hub for the area during the weekend. We sold out every day for three days and I collected email addresses and it grew from there - quite organically. People told other people about it and it I garnered that momentum and ran with it - I'm still running with it!
How would you describe your food? is it more African fusion than traditional Ghanaian food?
I hate the word fusion so I wouldn't call it fusion. In fact, my menu is usually split 50/50 with traditional dishes and then a twist on the use of Ghanaian ingredients -making new dishes out of traditional Ghanaian flavours.
For me - what I do is as much about introducing the flavours and wonderful ingredients from Ghana as the staple dishes itself - all food can be re-invented while still giving a nod to where it originates.
You are involved in catering for diverse events and host a number of events yourself. please tell us about the activities you've been involved in.
I've been lucky enough to be invited to Russia to cook for the NCCA Ural Gallery's 'Decisive Action' Art Festival this summer. I regularly host supper club and pop-up events in Berlin and this year had a chef residency there for five months, which was extremely well received. I also cater for weddings corporate events and private parties - I deliver cookery lessons as well as develop my street food offering and take this to festivals such as Camp Bestival.
African food was previously thought of as very niche and not necessarily appealing to the mainstream audience. what has been your experience of this?
This is exactly why I love what I do - I have the opportunity to bring African (Ghanaian) food to a wider audience and to demonstrate how versatile African cuisine can be. The response has been great - people in general are willing to try to something new and expand their palate, they just need to know what is available to them. The mainstream UK restaurant scene has been saturated with so much of the same for so long - an increasing number of new African food businesses and concepts are starting to rise above that noise and people are excited. The continent of Africa has such a diverse food offering and this is starting to be reflected in street food and supper club environments where a wider range of people can get more access (to this cuisine).
What are your plans for the year? will we be seeing Zoe's Ghana kitchen in a permanent home?
I am currently enjoying my residency at the King and Co in Clapham which ends on the 31st May. I am serving our new menu 7 days a week!! I will hopefully take up a few more longer-term residencies in as yet unexplored parts of London whilst building towards getting investments to hopefully open my own place (towards the end of the year or early 2016 finger crossed). I will also be developing a recipe book and expanding the Zoe's Ghana Kitchen presence across the UK - hoping to get to Manchester, Brighton and Edinburgh and also across Europe, hosting supper clubs in Paris and Rotterdam! I'll also be developing my branded product range - currently we're making Shito and Kelewele and Jollof Spice mixes. It's going to be a busy year!
Restaurant Pop Brixton
Zoe's Ghana Kitchen is now located at Unit 36 49 Brixton Station Road, Brixton, London SW9 8PQ