“Finding my voice and my identity in the kitchen took time. It wasn’t until four years into my career, while I was watching the 2nd season of, “Mind of a Chef” featuring Sean Brock that it all began to click for me. Seeing Chef Sean Brock trace the food he’d grown up eating to Senegal inspired me. It was shocking for me to see a white chef knowing more about the foodways of African cuisine than myself. Here I was being afraid to explore my own food and cook it for others at high-end restaurants, while other people were exploring just how good it really was. It was then that I realized that I didn’t know enough to faithfully represent the food I grew up eating.

I purchased books and dove straight into it while I was still working in NYC. I started looking for ingredients I had never heard of before, and even some that you couldn’t easily get your hands on here in the U.S, all in the pursuit of knowledge for my ancestry and its flavors. My approach to food became to always learn about the cuisine I was exploring before even trying to interpret it. I tie my passion for history with my love for food and use that to highlight the interconnectivity we all share from our ancestors. How something as small as immigrants cooking the food from their homeland can transcend and become a major part of the local community and its history, is something that shouldn’t be understated.

My concept Ębí Chop Bar (@ebichopbar) is a maturation of the popups I’ve done over the last 4 years, years I’ve spent exploring flavors as well as my creativity. Exploring the beauty of foods from the African diaspora, which can be seen all through Latin America, Southern U.S, and the Caribbean – and how they’ve evolved across the various continents over time.

If there’s one thing I wish to see more of at the upper echelons of dining, it’s black chefs and our foods in them. We’re all connected through food in some way, just as much as we’re nowadays connected through social media.”