Collaborating with Guarantee Trust Holding Company from Abidjan to Lagos has been an awesome experience.
The GTCO Chef Masters - Côte d’Ivoire Edition
The GTCO Chef Masters is a cooking show that aims to promote the authenticity of African cuisine and I couldn’t have been happier when GT Bank invited me to host the 1st edition in Côte d’Ivoire .
Not only does it align with my mission of shifting the African narrative through food but it also provides a platform for young chefs to express their creativity and hopefully boost their career/projects as well.
I had the pleasure to work with Guest Judge Nadine Lawal along with two of my favorite chefs in Côte d’Ivoire who also acted as Judges during the competition : Chef Charlie Koffi who is the Director & Manager at La Villa Alfira in Abidjan and Cheffe Grace Houffouet who is the Executive Chef of Enotel Beach Hotel & Resorts in San Pedro. Both Chefs are talented, passionate, hard workers and have earned the respect of their peers in that regard. If you recall, they were my guests of episodes 3 and 4 on Food’Story.
Held in March 2022, the first edition started with 9 participants from a pool of over 200 applications. The rules were simple.
For the 1st challenge, the participants were each given a specific set of locally sourced ingredients such as Mangoes, Attiéké (Couscous-like grain made out of grated cassava) and Gnangnan (small grains - often referred to as a local eggplant with therapeutic virtues).
With those ingredients they had 40 minutes to prepare a dish in order to wow the jury and move to the next round. After that 1st round, 3 participants were shortlisted to make it to the finale.
The challenge of the finale was slightly different. The 3 participants were permitted to choose their ingredients themselves and preparing 1 entree and 1 main dish.
And the winner of the GTCO Chef Masters - Côte d’Ivoire Edition is...
Debora Pangni. A young lady who holds a Bachelor degree in Hospitality management. She is currently working as a cooking teacher and consultant at the Yarani vocational school. She ambitions to create an Ivorian and African culinary guide of Michelin standard and showcasing Ivorian Gastronomy to the world.
Debora and I traveled from Abidjan to Lagos in order to participate in the…
GTCO Food and Drink Festival
The first time I heard about the GTCO Food and Drink Festival was in 2018 when my good friend Andie, owner of Andie’s Candies, participated in it for the first time.
As the winner of the GTCO Chef Masters - Côte d'Ivoire, Debora got the opportunity to host a live Masterclass at the Festival.
Truth be told, the festival exceeded my expectations and here are couple of reasons why :
The GTCO Food and Drink Festival has become the premier culinary event in Africa. Every year since 2016, it has brought together tens of thousands of people from across the continent and beyond to support and celebrate Nigeria’s vibrant and burgeoning small businesses in the food retail sector.
Indeed, the annual GTCO Food and Drink Festival is a free business platform where SMEs and retailers in the food value chain get to interact with their consumers. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the SMEs could participate in the festival for entirely FREE, that the attendance was also free as part of the GTCO’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative. It goes without saying that they had to go through a selective application process in order to get the chance to get a spot.
From candies’ businesses to the very best jollof rice and amala the city could offer, you name it, the GTCO Food and Drink Festival is definitely THE biggest food experience on the continent.
In addition to the vendors, the festival has featured over a dozen masterclasses by renowned international chefs and experts in the food industry such as Moe Cason, Raphael Duntoye or The Alberti Twins.
The GTCO Food and Drink Festival welcomes a cosmopolitan audience of food enthusiasts. Not only is it a celebration of food but to me it also felt like a celebration of life especially after the pandemic disrupted pretty much everything and everyone for the past 2 years.
The energy and the “vibe” at the festival, especially on the last day, was unmatched !
3. Last but certainly not least the food
As a foodie, I couldn’t possibly end this blog post without mentioning the food ! Not only was I excited to return to Lagos 11 years after my last visit but most importantly I was particularly happy to find out this year’s festival had a special focus on Nigerian street food.
From Suya, Puff Puff, Dundun & Pepper to Abacha and Moi moi, the possibilities of tasting authentic Nigerian local and traditional cuisines were endless !