Chefs from across Africa met in Ghana last week to discuss how they can work together to boost their profession as part of the African Chefs United Hospitality All African People Imbizo (HAAPI) Festival.
The festival celebrated Africa’s indigenous food, exotic drinks, arts and heritage.
Across Tema and Accra, chefs from as far as South Africa, Togo, Senegal, Mauritania, Lesotho, Togo and Nigeria met, cooked, ate and planned through the HAAPI festival.
Two barbecue chefs from outside the continent, one from Ireland the other Australia also took part.
The festival is an initiative from South African chef Citrum Khumalo, founder of African Chefs United. The first event was in Johannesburg four years ago.
Speaking to Pulse Ghana, Chef Khumalo said the festival and African Chefs United wanted to see African cuisine recognised and enjoyed across the world. But first, chefs needed to work together to increase professionalism and standards in the industry, he said.
He had travelled extensively and seen how the profession is treated abroad – particularly in Europe where chefs work together.
“Chefs are the ambassadors of any tourism and hospitality industry in their respective countries. We saw huge gap in Africa. First the standard of food is very low, the quality, the systems are not right, the hygiene, the safety, you name it.
“It is all because we are not united. We don’t come together to work together to share ideas. I believe when we share ideas we are going to come out victorious across the entire continent.”
A way to do this is through the festival, he said, as it worked to bring together chefs from across the continent, and ever further afield.
Ultimately, he wants to see cuisine across the continent receive global recognition.
“If you walk around here in Ghana you see Chinese restaurants but if you go around the world you hardy see African restaurants. We need to bring the food standard to a level where it will be accepted across the world – they way we prepare it and present the food.”
Ghanaian chef Micheal Quainoo, who is head chef at Alisa Hotel in Accra said the event was important as chefs were able to learn from each other and learn other cultures.
As part of the festival, African Chefs United formed an alliance with local food charity Food For All Ghana to feed patients at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
Founder of the charity, Elijah Amoo Addo said about 40 chefs feed 200 patients and the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding which aims to reduce food wastage within Africa’s hospitality/culinary chain.
Amoo Addo said the event and the signing was about getting chefs to understand the inefficiencies within the industry and recognise they can stop waste and help to feed vulnerable people in their societies.
The leadership of African Chefs United signed a 14 year memorandum of understanding to work together in reducing food wastage along the hospitality chain across the continent.
The agreement, called ‘African Chefs Will Feed Africa 2030’ aims to strengthen chefs in cooking sustainably across the continent.