The Gambia's international award winning chef, Saikou Bojang

By: Foday Manneh 

Chef Saikou Bojang, the only Gambian chef to cook in Buckingham Palace for the Royal Family on Sunday, 30 October, traveled to Ghana with the team representing The Gambia at the West Africa Food Festival (WAFFEST).

Chefs from 13 African countries are participating in the 2022 edition: Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon, and Azerbaijan.

This year’s activities include a culinary conference, a cooking competition among the participating countries, a catering institutions’ competition, excursions, and sightseeing tours within Accra.

Bojang and five other members of the Gambia Chefs Association (GCA) will be in the kitchen representing their nation at the 2 to 4 November event.

Bojang and five other members of the Gambia Chefs Association (GCA) will be in the kitchen representing their nation at the 2 to 4 November event.

The competition, which is not their first, would give them another opportunity to expose and promote Gambian cuisine to the world.

“In all the competitions we have been attending, we always want to expose to other people what Gambians have to offer through food.

“We prepare the Benachin, Yassa, Chura-Gerrteh, and Grump-soup to compete. So don’t be surprised that “Chura-Gerrteh” came out first in our previous competitions. We do it differently with a different texture”, Bojang said.

He added that such events also promote Gambia’s tourism industry through food preparations.

However, Bojang expressed disappointment about his team’s lack of support in this competition from the national authorities.

“Beautiful and great restaurants and hotels are useless without food. And the engineers behind the food are the chefs. So, it is through us they maintain great business in the tourism sector.

“This is a national team, and whenever we are going for such competitions, we don’t get support like representatives.

“The Minister of Tourism needs to understand that we use the ingredients and cuisines of the nation to market Gambia as a destination.

“So we expect him and his Ministry to be our direct partners and sponsors. But, unfortunately, even a single flight ticket they could not for providing us”, revealed Bojang.

The GCA team under Bojang’s leadership is the only Gambian team that has won prizes in recent years back to back for three years in all international competitions.

The GCA competed in the 2021 edition of WAFFEST in Liberia, where the team emerged as runners-up in two categories: best plate design and best-decorated cake.

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