I come from a culture where food governs various aspect of the social life. Through food, we show and receive appreciation for one another. As a small child, I was known for eating everything and anything presented to me. I was the opposite of a picky-eater. I loved food so much, I did not miss dinner even if I felt asleep before super. My family would wake me up, feed me, and put me back to bed. Eating was not the only thing I loved, I was fascinated with the art of cooking, culture, and rules surrounding food. At six years old, I argued with my grandmother regarding the arbitrary cultural norm of serving men first. I would watch her cook, and I would insist that she serves the youngest member of the family before anyone else.
By the time I turned nine, I had learned to cook the basic such as rice, beans, vegetables, and chicken. We had a private chef, who eventually introduced me to the world of culinary arts. His name was “Shetani”, which mean evil in Shwahili. He was ruthless in the kitchen. He taught me how to make bread, introduced me to French string beans, and most importantly the love for cooking. Shetani continued to work for my family for many years until he past away.
As a young girl growing up in Congo, I was expected to know how to cook. Falling in love with the art of cooking was never not part of the deal. I spent my early teens hanging out with friends, reading comic books, and playing trivia. After school was dedicated to home work and a trip to the market. At thirteen, I knew the in-and-out of a good steak bargain. I enjoyed everything part of the food process; from the shopping to the serving. I never knew I would pursuit cooking as a career.
Once I arrived to America, I did what any immigrant child is most excited to do. I went away to college, where I studied Biology. There, I found myself interested in Sociology, Anthropology, Public Health, and Political Science. All led me back to my true passion, the desire to know how and why people socialize around food. I was interested in understand human behaviors with food. By senior year, I started my first business, Healthy Afrique LLC, a social enterprise dedicated to helping small farmers in Africa to enter the global food market.
Today, I host supper clubs, private events, and catering, as a way to introduce pan-African culture and food to the world. Looking back, my journey felt straightforward but it led me to where I am today. I am happy to share the love I have for my culture, as well as the food.