My Love for our continent is intrinsically linked to my love for our cultures and our cuisines and there was no better way for me to celebrate #AfricaDay than to talk about African Gastronomy.
Following the launch of the publication “A tour of African Gastronomy”, the UNWTO has been consistently promoting African Gastronomy and its Chefs during the month of May. The activities were hosted virtually and consisted of weekly round table sessions.
I was honored to have been invited as the moderator of the 4th session “Gastronomy: A new image for Africa” and to interview 5 highly respected and talented speakers on the following theme: “Building a new narrative for Africa though its flavors”.
I truly enjoy this insightful conversation and I am happy to share the top 3 takeaways with you:
It’s everyone responsibility to contribute in shaping our new narrative. Mr. Kwakye Donkor emphasized that it cuts across the entire value chain. From the policy makers, the National Tourism Organisations, the Destination Management Companies, the Destination Management Organisations to the Chefs, Hoteliers, Restaurateurs and even the local food vendors.
It has been clearly stated that Gastronomy should be included in every destination branding and marketing strategies. Mr. Donkor urged for implementation in the overall experiences while in a destination by taking the example of the Ghanaian tourism Marketing Campaign “See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, Feel Ghana”.
Mr. Donkor also reiterated the central role the Media plays - from traditional to modern (i.e. Digital platforms) when it comes to showcasing our cuisines and sharing it with the world.
According to Chef Coco Reinharz, every one of us should be intentional about discovering the cuisines from our neighboring countries. He additionally stated having tasted the local food of the 45 African nations he visited; staying true to his motto: You have to eat like a local while visiting a destination.
2. Education, Capacity Building and Training
Chef Alex Oke from Nigeria regularly hosts dinners with other Lagos based Chefs. Some of the issues raised out of these conversations were the lack of culinary training schools on the continent catering to African Cuisine as a whole.
This remark was echoed by Chef Coco who congratulated Chef Dieuveil Malonga for the initiative of launching a culinary school in Rwanda.
In addition, Education regularly came up in the conversations. From educating ourselves as Africans to be curious about our own cuisines, becoming our own ambassadors to educating the tourists as well.
Collaboration is essential when it comes to building a new narrative for our continent through its flavors. Of course, it goes without saying that there must be different collaborations across the value and supply chains.
For instance, Mr. Donkor mentioned collaborations between the hotels and the local food vendors (i.e. street food) which was echoed by Chef Oke. He gave an example of serving the local drinks of a destination as welcoming drinks in hotels.
Moreover, Chef Coco suggested a collaboration between Chefs and other United Nations entities in order to ensure a continuous supply of African products on the continent.
Working together will make a huge difference into shaping our narrative
To sum up, I would like to end with a quote from Mr. Donkor “Tourism without Gastronomy is not tourism” and I couldn’t agree more.