fbpx

Downtime with Chef Mick

Born in the DRC and raised in the south of France, Mick Élysèe is the head chef of Nsuomnam in Accra. Inspired by his background, he crafts intentional and sensory dishes that evoke all-encompassing dining experiences experiences. We talked to Chef Mick following the Intra African Trade Fair in Cairo.

By Monalisa Molefe

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in Cairo launched an African Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Programme under its Creative Africa Nexus Initiative (CANEX). Launched during the third Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2023), the CANEX African Gastronomy and Culinary Arts Programme is the newest vertical within the CANEX programme and featured nine celebrity chefs from Africa and the Caribbean taking part in masterclasses, live cooking demonstrations and conversations with culinary experts.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, said that the introduction of the programme would help to refocus continental efforts towards local food production to ensure food security, reduce high food costs and imports and minimise the impact of external shocks on Africa’s food supply chain. He described the programme as an opportunity for the promotion of African cuisine to develop trade and local food value chain through promotion of local foods, highlight their superior health benefits to local and regional communities and support local restauranteurs and entrepreneurs to upgrade the dining experience through skills development and capacity building. The programme would also improve access to finance to help build sector infrastructure, such as restaurants, franchises and packaged goods production plants, to develop the local food value chains and increase employment opportunities.

YourLuxury Africa attended the fair and caught up with Chef Mick to talk about the development of the fine dining landscape on the continent and how he plans to celebrate and reset in luxury this festive season.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR TRAVELS TO CAIRO FOR IATF2023 AND THE CANEX FESTIVAL.

It was my first time in Cairo. It’s a beautiful and modern city that is growing rapidly. Unfortunately, I Couldn’t visit any important sites as it was a short 2 day business trip but Imanaged to have a glimpse of the local food and I truly enjoyed it. I’m hoping to bring my family on holiday next summer.

— The IntraAfrican Trade Fair through its creative program Canex launched gastronomy as a pillar at this year’s 7 day event

WHAT ROLE DID YOU PLAY IN THE CULINARY PROGRAMME AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE CULINARY ARTS BEING ADDED AS A PILLAR FOR THE FIRST TIME?

I Was an expert speaker on African fine dining cuisine and sustainability. I had the opportunity to exchange with my colleagues and the audience on several subjects including the impact of sustainability to the environment. It was a fulfilling and enriching experience. I encourage such initiatives, the hospitality industry is a valuable pillar to any country’s economic development.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON AFREXIM BANK’S NEW AFRICAN GASTRONOMY AND CULINARY ARTS PROGRAMME?

 I think it’s a great opportunity for the promotion of African cuisine and a clever programme that will contribute to the development of a stronger sustainable food system, improve access to finance for SMB, support local restaurateurs and entrepreneurs to upgrade the dining experience, grow the local food value chains while increasing employment opportunities.

WHAT ARE YOU CELEBRATING THIS FESTIVE SEASON?

I’m celebrating one year of NsuomNam. I took the job as head chef because of the restaurant’s philosophy. I’m big on sustainability and I love to give back to community. We only work with local famers and fishmongers and we source our vegetables from the local market.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT ACCRA?

 I love the weather – I moved here from London, after all. I also like being close to the sea.

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE LUXURY IN YOUR LIFE?

Luxury for me is not about cost, it’s about happiness, cleanliness, rarity and uniqueness. If I get any of this, I am happy and  I celebrate it.

Chef Mick has been heading up the kitchen at Nsuomnam in Accra for a year

WHAT MAKES NSUOMNAM LUXURIOUS?

It’s the experience I give the customers. The cocktails are unique and the food tells a story. Our pairing experiences are exclusive and luxurious. I take pleasure in spending time with my guests and you’ll often find me on the restaurant floor.

A MEMORABLE MEAL YOU’VE RECENTLY MADE?

 In Ghana, we have a cheese called wagashi that’s made from fresh cow’s milk and mixed with a sour plant. Once mixed, it reacts and becomes a cottage cheese-like substance. At a farm, I milked the cow and made traditional wagashi. I then went to a millet field to get fresh millet and used these ingredients to make a wagashi and millet salad. Millet and sorghum are some of the oldest grains in the world and abundant in Africa, and are deeply rooted in our heritage.

HOW DOES YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCE YOUR MENU?

My food and culinary journey reflect my life experiences. I come from Congo and I’ve travelled to France, the UK, Canada, Japan and Brazil, and I’ve learnt about di erent cultures’ ingredients and cooking techniques. I make a tartare – this is a French cooking technique, and I mixed in yuzu (a Japanese citrus) infused with passionate fruit and Prekese (a local spice). A dish like this becomes a mix of Japan, Africa and France.

WHERE AND HOW DO YOU RELAX ON YOUR DAYS OFF?

I have two beautiful baby girls and an amazing wife that I love spending time with. If I’m not with them, I go to the spa or gym, or to the beach.

YOUR ULTIMATE TRAVEL DESTINATION?

Outside of Africa, it would have to be London. I love London – its more home for me than Congo as I lived there for more than 20 years. Second would be my hometown, Congo. I’ve never been to South Africa, but I hope to go there one day.

WHAT ARE SOME LUXURY ASPECTS OF YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?

I like designers who make rare and unique items that add to my personal style. I also enjoy every scent in the Yves Saint Laurent collection. I love luxury watches too, Vacheron Constantin is one of my favourite brands, I’m planning on buying a special one for my 50th birthday.

Visit nsuomnam.com for fine dining in Accra.

Monalisa Molefe

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and don’t miss out on regular updates from the YourLuxury Africa team on all things luxurious, beautiful and inspiring.

adbanner