Earlier this month I tried Congolese food for the very first time and what an introduction! Chef Mick Élysée is all about combining flavours and cultures together through a series of pop-up menu tastings under the name Afro-Fusion.
I walked into our location for the night, the calm before the storm. Chef Élysée was busy at work, commandeering his army of chefs, ensuring that each plate was just right. As the evening went on, conversations lingered around the room. Gentle chatter and soft laughter all came to a pause as we admired each course that was presented before us.
Safu Tart with Prawns, Smoked Mpiodi (mackerel) and Palm Wine Pickled Vegetables.
Pangasius Papillote (Iboké) served with Fried Plantain.
Lamb Filet with Peanut Sauce, Bitéku-Téku, Okra and Cassava roots. Luyeye Honey and Kivu Coffee Cream.
Do these things sound as unfamiliar to you as they did to me? As distant as the names were, the smells were so familiar. The frying of plantain, the aroma of cassava and the distinct smell of charred leaves brought back memories of home.
But Chef Élysée’s work does more than put Congolese food onto our palates. He reworks traditional meals with a modern flair, combining the old with the new. In so doing, this skilled cook reintroduces us to what may or may not be familiar.
Food is home. It is part of our culture and tradition. It is one of the foundations of our communities. Recently there has been a surge of African themed restaurants emerging in London. Food from Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and many other countries are littered throughout the city and we are totally here for it. Where are your go-to places for a taste of home?
Alternatively, instead of eating out, why not try eating in? At Afro-Fusion we were each gifted a copy of Not Guilty, a twenty recipe cookbook by Chef Élysée himself. Now I am not a cook but I’m genuinely excited to try some of these dishes. They are light, healthy and relatively easy to recreate. My summer project: learn how to cook!
Want to know more about Chef Élysée? Click on here to hear what he had to say about his passion for cooking, Afro-Fusion and so much more!
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