TAT Exclusive: Chef Bojang: From Hotel Receptionist to Multi-Award-Winning Chef

Chef Bojang

Before mid-2003, this multi-award-winning chef did not know how to boil eggs. He was just being absorbed in a hotel to support himself as an international student in the United Kingdom, where he went with a dream of becoming a biomedical scientist. His ability to learn quickly, backed by his insatiable desire and passion for cooking, helped him transform himself today as one of the finest chefs on the African continent with multiple awards in his name, including a bracing win of the much-talked-about Jollof rice competition held in Nigeria last week.

Born and raised in Kafuta, where he completed his secondary education in Brikama, Saikou Bojang, now famous by his name, Chef Bojang, left the Gambia searching for better and quality education in the United Kingdom to study biomedicine in March 2003. However, he studied food science after taking up a job at a hotel as a receptionist and later working in the kitchen, a move that rolled the phenomenal Gambian Chef into one of Africa’s most influential and respected Chefs.

“I went to the UK in 2003 to be a biomedical scientist. And as an international student, I supported myself by working in a hotel as a receptionist; at some point, someone called in sick in the kitchen, and I was asked if I could volunteer to help cook breakfast. I was on that until I was able to do a few things. Before that, I never knew how to boil eggs. I did what I had to do, and I was lucky to be a quick learner, and after that, I started building interest in cooking”, the celebrated chef told The Alkamba Times.

Team Gambia at the Festival in Nigeria

After 12 years, Bojang returned to the Gambia to explore what he learned in the United Kingdom, where he worked with renowned chefs and bagged six international trophies as a chef before returning home. He said he returned to work on what the country got to offer with its rich traditional cuisine.

Like many inspiring Gambians, Chef Bojang came home with a gigantic dream of shaping the country’s cuisine and transforming the destination into a food tourism industry, using the country’s delightful offers to lure foreign tourists.

“What I am looking forward to is making the Gambia a food tourism-based country where people can come and enjoy our indigenous heritage and consume our great cuisine, and we are ready to do that,” he explained.

Currently serving as the President of the Gambia Chef Association, Chairman of the West African Chef Alliance, and Program Director of the African Chef Alliance, Chef Bojang’s sole desire is to tour the country and train young people passionate about cooking to venture into the industry. He outlined that he is all set to help young Gambians and prepare them for international markets.

On Winning the Jollof Rice Competition against Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia

Ending the long-standing debate over the origins of Jollof rice, locally called Benachin, the Gambia’s phenomenal chef, Saikou Bojang, who guided the country’s Chef’s Association to a Jolof rice triumph among countries claiming to be the home of the famous rice dish, said he did not go to Nigeria to compete but to settle the dispute over the Gambia’s legitimate claim as the home of Jolof rice.

“I didn’t go there to compete for the Jollof rice. For me, there was no competition. All I did was to settle a dispute over its origins, and I did settle it,” he told TAT.

With his unlimited desire to shape the chef industry, Bojang called on Gambians to help the Chef Association and support them in making the Gambia a food tourism industry luring holidaymakers with its delicious traditional foods.

Through his work, Chef Bojang has developed himself as one of the country’s most respected and renowned cooks. He has earned enormous respect and admiration for his passion and dedication to cooking.


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