Saturday, December 02, 2006

Advice on opening and operating an African restaurant from Berkeley, California

I just returned from my first African Studies Association conference, held in San Francisco in November, 2006, and my talk about "Asanka to Maggi Cubes: Ghanaian Cookbooks as Sources for African Food History" (the only talk on African cuisine, which is why I went!) I also had a chance to eat at 2 West African restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area: Senegalese Marco's Bissap Baobab in San Francisco, and Ghanaian Mary Dugbartey-Nudanu and her husband Duke Nudanu's Tropical Paradise in Berkeley. It was helpful to learn from Marco about his restaurant experiences and the support he receives from family, friends and community. I am especially grateful to Duke Nudanu (shown with me in the photo above; diners at Tropical Paradise are shown below) for taking time out to talk with me about insights gained in Berkeley over the past 23 months Tropical Paradise has been open. To subscribe to BETUMI podcasts, click on the itunes link at the top righthand side of the BETUMI home page, or subscribe from another podcast directory. To listen only to Mr. Nudanu's 22-minute interview, click here.

Near the end of our interview we revisit the need for an association for African food professionals. The plan is to get this organized in the next few months. Stay tuned.

African Restaurant Menus: In addition to an African cookbook collection, I have an extensive collection of African menus (collected by me, and now by family and friends on my behalf). A few recent menus, in addition to those from the restaurants above, include Mulugeta Abate's Pan Africa Market ( cafe in Seattle (I ate there and it had a nice blend of East and West African food), Yassa in Chicago (, and Blue Nile in Harrisonburg, VA ( (though this was an Ethiopian restaurant, thanks to a Togolese chef, they had a delicious groundnut/peanut stew on the menu). And my dear husband just returned from Cameroon/Cameroun with a menu from Restaurant Ristallo in Yaounde.