Eric Adjepong, a Ghanaian-American chef who made the news as a finalist on Bravo TV’s hit show, ‘Top Chef’ is back in the news, cooking the meal he was unable to finish on the show’s season finale.
On May 13, at Mr. Colicchio’s restaurant Craft in Manhattan, Mr. Adjepong presented the full menu: “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Through Food,” a dinner that zigzags across the Atlantic Ocean, retracing the forced migration of enslaved Africans and illuminating the deep and lasting global culinary influences of the continent.
Over the four courses, Mr. Adjepong combined ingredients from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal with influences from countries and regions along the slave trade routes, tracing lines to Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean, Brazil and the southeastern United States.
A course of king crab, the meat twirled into bundles like angel hair pasta, rested in a pool of beurre blanc made with palm wine, a West African drink made of palm tree sap, the sauce studded with puffed Carolina Gold rice. Onion jam mimicked the tangy, spiciness of the Senegalese stew poulet yassa. Cassava, also known as yuca, showed up in multiple courses, a reflection of its importance in the cuisines of the diaspora.
A dessert of corn and goat’s milk pudding was served with piles of tangy magenta tapioca pearls made with Nigerian hibiscus, familiar to anyone who knows the drinks zobo, sorrel or sobolo. (“Hibiscus is such a familiar flavor and color across the diaspora, I wanted to include it,” Mr. Adjepong said.)
The dinner gave Mr. Adjepong the opportunity to finish this particular story and continue his mission of making African food more prominent in America. From an open kitchen, with the help of a team of six chefs, he cooked the meal he hopes will illustrate Africa’s culinary influence on the world.
“So, you’re going to have the steak tartare first, but there’s been some adjustments,” he said to the diners as he laughed, while Fela Kuti’s “Water No Get Enemy” played softly in the background. That night, the tartare sat under herbs with flaked salt and fresh shallots, with a pool of the jerk sauce on the side and fried plantain chips adorning the dish like polka dots.
“I was supposed to do this meal for the finale,” he said to the crowd. “But being at home in New York, this feels a lot better.”
Culled from New York Times