When South African celebrity Chef Citrum Khumalo was traveling the world — 19 European countries in three months was his record when he was marketing an eponymous range of African spices and sauces that he helped develop and endorsed — he noticed the dearth of authentic African restaurants serving indigenous African cuisine.
He had learned a lot about the flavors of Africa while researching the continent’s spices and cuisines. In Europe, “I saw French, Italian and Spanish cuisine so well presented and established and this made me realize how under-represented Africa is on the world food map.”
US–based Cuisine Noir, the monthly online magazine (there is also a quarterly print edition) that focuses on food, wine and travel primarily for a black American and "diaspora" readership, features Chef Khumalo’s collaborative attempt to take tradition-inspired contemporary African cuisine out of the closet, so as to speak, and onto the world food stage.
Read the full Cuisine Noir version of African cuisine poised for world food take-off here.
“Different countries have unique, rich and diverse food traditions and culinary styles but African cuisine is not promoted as a gourmet experience in South Africa, the rest of Africa or, except for a few notable exceptions, outside Africa,” Khumalo told Cuisine Noir.
In fact, many people think of the African continent in generic, borderless terms, forgetting the fact that it is huge, diverse and made up of a whole lot of countries each with unique cultures, languages, traditions — and cuisines. Think “Europe,” by comparison and into the mind’s eye jumps Germany, Switzerland, France or Spain, etcetera, each separate and distinct, food and drink included.
“Even within Africa we haven’t embraced the culinary traditions and variety of our continent,” Chef Khumalo says.
To reverse this and with the intention of creating a movement he hopes will snowball and put the flavors and distinct cuisines of Africa on the world culinary map, Chef Khumalo has organized the first of what he hopes will be an annual Hospitality All African People Imbizo (HAAPI), an African-flavored festival (“imbizo” translates as festival) celebrating indigenous food, exotic drinks, arts and heritage.
The festival, Khumalo told Cuisine Noir mag’s Delicious Life columnist Wanda Hennig, falls under the umbrella of the Culinary Arts Association of South Africa (CAASA), will feature cook-offs and contests pitting the skills of chefs from the rest of Africa against top South African chefs, food stalls demonstrating African cuisine and entertaining community activities.
Khumalo told Cuisine Noir mag: “Teams of chefs, from different hotels and restaurants, are coming to represent their countries. We have Team CAASA representing South Africa. One chef works at the Michelangelo Hotel, one at the Radisson Hotel and one in my culinary school and catering business. The pastry chef is from the Emperors Palace.
“The chefs in the team don’t necessarily cook African food in their kitchens but they’re practicing African dishes for the competition. Each country will be required to cook for 30 people during a four hour period, doing everything fresh, from scratch, using flavors and ingredients that represent the individual country.”
For more info, schedules, dates and directions, “like” HAAPI on Facebook.