cooking trip with chef Olivia de Souza – Young Africa

From Tours, France, to her hometown of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, to Lomé, Togo – her home country, where she opened “L’Atelier des sens” in 2011 – Olivia de Souza lives from this passion that is cooking. In its establishment, located in the chic district of Les Étoiles, not far from the Fréau Jardin, in Lomé, there is no menu card. Meals are either ordered the day before to be eaten on site, around a table of fifteen cutlery, or delivered, at home or in the workplace. “I cook according to my customers’ wishes, not by dictation of the food, which is why my fridge is empty when I don’t have a reservation,” she said.

Healthy eating

Olivia de Souza’s love of tasty food dates back to her youngest age. First in the family circle, then in France, where she arrived in 1989 to do two years of study at the Grandmont high school in Tours, completed by a G2 bachelor’s degree, before turning to a BTS in tourism and trade.

As a student, she offers dishes to her classmates to support her needs. This allowed her to create a network very early on and chart a path to the financial independence she had always dreamed of. “I knew I was going to be an entrepreneur, but I didn’t know it was in the kitchen, which became my whole life and my passion,” she says.

The 50-year-old, of whom twenty-five are dedicated to her art, the chef defines herself as a traveling chef who wants to offer table d’hôtes in African capitals. After Abidjan, Libreville, Dakar, Accra and Cotonou, she is appreciated for promoting her savoir-faire during the month of May, in Brazzaville.

In addition to its own recipes, mixed with local spices, there are classic dishes that can satisfy a diverse clientele. Bean pancakes (called “kpédjigaou” in Togo), tomato-onion-cucumber salad, yam parmentier, fish or vegetable yassa… Authenticity of its cuisine marks the spirits.

Wangash confit with coconut oil, fonio dishes, djenkoumé, allele …

Difficult to pass in a wangash confit establishment with coconut oil wangash, presented in a small bottle delivered at 3,500 CFA francs (5.30 euros), or fonio plates, which is a common mixture of seeds of sesame. In Togo as in France, she likes to serve djenkoumé, a family dish made from cornmeal, which she nicknames “Togolese polenta.” Or allele, which is very popular in Benin, which is often consumed with chili juice.

Taste of sharing

An avid reader, Olivia de Souza devotes her free time to cultivating and sharing her knowledge. The “Atelier des sens” in Lomé, where about thirty people – young or old – have been trained, is also a library. Books of recipes and social life, written by contemporary authors, are made available to guests.

In the town of Djagblé, about ten kilometers north of the capital, she is working to open a vocational training center in cooking and culinary coaching, where she will be taught how to cook and eat healthily. Olivia frequently participates in cooking festivals and shows, on Canal + and on local television channels.

Through the ingredients used, it is the embodiment of African cuisine »

She will be performing again this year from May 10 to 15, in Lomé, alongside a dozen chefs, gathered for the La Marmite Festival (Fesma), of which she is the godmother. Among them: the Cameroonian Christian Abégan, expert in gastronomy strategy and food security; Togolese Pépin Kwami Kunkel, designer of Plate’s Fooding; chef Lopez Ahligo et le Sénégalais Sadibou Sow, executive chef of the Hotel 2-Février, Lomé.

For the promoter Jean-Paul Agboh Ahouélété, Olivia de Souza was chosen as the godmother of this event because she is “the embodiment of African cuisine by the ingredients she uses and the food she cooks.” “They are in tune with the new ways of eating and with the valorisation of local products, that wishe promotion our Festival,” he explains. Through Olivia, it is about celebrating “all African women who enjoy their families on a daily basis with the meals they prepare,” “all the women and men who, in the bushes or on the roadsides, have nurtured and still nurture generations of Africans, ”continues Agboh Ahouélété.

The Fesma program, which is expected to have some two hundred participants (restaurateurs, producers, food industry players, industrialists): gastronomy and contemporary issues, master classes, coaching sessions, awareness meetings and sharing experience between cooks cooks and students.

@ fesma2022

The 1st edition of the La Marmite Festival #FESMA arrives .. See you in Lomé from May 10 to 15, 2022 # togolais228🇹🇬 #cuisinetiktok @rfi @cheflopezavolonte @ hotel2fevrier

♬ Ahoe – The little poppy

Fans of good food will enjoy the local food fair and the tasting room. With the ambition to promote local and African values ​​and traditions, le Fesma, placed under the sponsorship of Togolese President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, and in competition with catering and cooking schools. The teams will have, among other things, to prepare a dish from a basket and to prepare a buffet according to the free program.

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