Dieuveil Malonga – African Gastronomy Rewritten

by | May 5, 2022 | Art, Business, Competition, CSA Celebrates, Culture, Design, Uncategorized

  • A culinary storyteller
  • Finalist of the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize 2018
  • MEZA Malonga – one of the “world’s best restaurants”
  • Dieuveil featured by The New York Times, Vogue, CNN, BBC
  • Speaker at United Nations

Chef Dieuveil Malonga is a culinary storyteller, of the history of the people and the lands behind each ingredient in the pan-African cuisine he is working to bring to the world. A favourite chef of famed architect Sir David Adjaye, Rick Owens and global head of states, his signature Afro-fusion cuisine is a subtle blend of tradition, modernity and cultures.

Having honed his culinary skills in Germany – at Michelin-starred restaurants Schote, La Vie and Aqua; and a finalist of the prestigious Basque Culinary World Prize 2018 – Dieuveil returned to Africa in 2015 to launch his restaurant MEZA Malonga in Kigali, Rwanda, which has already been acclaimed by Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine as one of the “world’s best restaurants”.

Through his culinary school, Chefs-In-Africa (which is attached to the restaurant), Dieuveil is also committed to shedding light on the continent’s rising stars of gastronomie. A two-time Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, Dieuveil Malonga (30) has been featured by The New York Times, Vogue, CNN, BBC and he has spoken at The United Nations.

The Wire spoke to Dieuveil about his new story of gastronomy which has its roots in what he calls Afro-fusion cuisine.

What do you think is the future of African cuisine?

Before I was born my parents spoke about European food. Then came Asian and now it’s South American. I think Africa is next. Look at how African food is getting recognized internationally with Michelin star restaurants such as Ikoyi in London and Musuke in Paris. Even recently, when I was in Venezuela and Colombia, I came across Nigerian and Senegalese restaurants. Now at my restaurant in Kigali I’m seeing people from around the world traveling to the continent to discover Africa’s culinary heritage. It’s an exciting time in the African food scene.

Why do you think it has taken so long?

Like any good dish, everything comes in good time.

After amazing success in Europe, what made you return to Africa to start your restaurant and culinary School?

Africa is home and there are a lot of opportunities, different ingredients, and incredible spices which you do not get anywhere else. For me Africa is the garden of the world, and I am a lot more creative here than when I lived in Europe. I grow my ingredients and I’m also training young chefs from around Africa, which is a real motivation.

What made you start your culinary school, Chefs-In-Africa, in Kigali?

On my journeys around the continent to promote Afro-fusion and share my love for Africa’s rich cuisine, I was blown away by the desire of some young chefs, whose goal is to reinvent and universalize African cuisine. But their path is littered with pitfalls. With a lack of equipment, new skills and social prejudices, African chefs are struggling to be known. This was behind the birth of Chefs-In-Africa, where the goal is to shed light on African Gastronomy. Through this platform, young, talented chefs can boost their careers  and portray Africa from a different perspective – boldly and gastronomically.

What is your approach to pan-African cuisine?

I travel – I’ve been to more than 48 countries in Africa – and I go to the villages to learn from the grandmothers. Back in the kitchen, I give it a modern touch in presentation and new techniques, so it’s about bringing the past into the future. I’m also trying to create a bridge of cuisines in Africa. For example, one my favourite dishes is a riff on ‘Sava Sava’, a dish from the Congo, which has casava leaves at its heart. However, to the leaves I add couscous from Morocco, dried fish from Burundi and palm oil from Tanzania, along with peanut cream, which creates an entirely new dish. That’s the essence of Afro-fusion: it’s modern, contemporary, and traditional at the same time.

What’s your earliest food memory?

I was born in Congo, where my grandmother had a restaurant, so my inspiration and philosophy came from her. When I went to Germany to join my sister, I didn’t like the food, so I started to cook myself! I spent 11 years in Europe – including time at the renowned Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen – before happily returning to the continent.

What’s your favorite African street food?

Definitely Cameroonian street food. I like the way they do fish which is grilled with eight or nine spices – it’s amazing. I also love oxtail and pap in South Africa – I tried it when I was there last to do a project with (the artist) Nelson Makamo – he held an exhibition, and I did dinner. That’s what I love about Afro-fusion cuisine – no matter where we are from on the continent, it brings us all together around the table to share food that defines us.

C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.

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