Chefs from several African countries are gathered in Lomé Togo until May 9th. They are promoting products and African dishes at the second edition of FESMA, the cooking-pot festival.
Chef Maelle Acakpo is meticulously preparing petits fours. She'll also serve on the menu today, a tiger nut cake with lemon cream.
She is a few kilometers away from her native Benin. The ˈpastry cook champions a gluten-free cuisine. She concocts recipes with no wheat flour, such as this cake made with fonio flour, lemon, Rosella ˈsɪrəp: basically this is made of local products only.
"Everything is really made with local products. I want the chain to be valued from the farmer to the consumer. I am an activist in the sense that I want to contribute to the economy of my country. My first goal is to serve healthy food and unable people to enjoy it regardless of their food allergy."
Esaïe Yapi N'CHO is also convinced that the value of local products should more widely recognized. The Ivorian chef, bets on the final transformation of the product.
For mini-garba pies the chef restyled attiéké, a popular Ivorian recipe, into a gourmet dish with fresh, healthy and carefully selected products.
"As chefs, our role is to work on the product, to enhance it on the plate. This is the challenge we have as African chefs. If we do not cook and make local products accessible, it would be difficult for us to expand".
In the corridors of the festival, many products are featured such as chicken grown in Togo, coffee, condiments.
The star of this year's edition of the FESMA is Tilapia "from Togo". The freshwater fish is considered here a sustainable product for the future.
With 1,800 tons of tilapia produced in 2022, Pierrot Akakpovi who runs a fish farm in the center of Togo is the king of the Tilapia business. The species is regarded as crucial for African countries' food security
"Look at the French, the way they advertise their cheese. We have to recognize our ourselves, our value. Only then will we move forward as we should. Everything starts from agriculture, everything starts from the land. If we get to work, I believe that quickly the trend will be reversed for the better."
In addition to tasting sessions, those attending the great event of African gastronomy also get the opportunity to take part in demonstrations, discover culinary trends and new techniques of African cuisines.