He might be young but he is most certainly ready. Joseph Odoom is the winner of HoneyTV’s House of Chefs reality cooking show as seen on DSTV. Eight chefs, eight countries, one winner and Chef Joseph Odoom sizzled his way to that premier spot.
He’s a young man with novel culinary ideas while regarding local Ghanaian ingredients with each plate. Chef Odoom calls it Afrofusion and it is an absolute delight to the palate. You’d forgive him for sticking to his winning formula- after all each plate’s taste has won him nothing but compliments.
We had a sit down with Chef Odoom to get a candid introspection on his creative process, his perspective on the future of Ghanaian and African cuisine and the delights that they bring.
Firstly, you’re the winner of House of Chefs as seen on HoneyTV. Congratulations, congratulations. How does it feel to know your cooking- your craft was the best among the continent’s best?
It feels great and yet humbling. Having to cook against the best of the best on the continent and my peers for that matter was such an honour. I had no idea I could win this and yet here I am.. feels amazing!
What made you first discover your love for food and creating cuisine?
Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of recipe books because my mum was adventurous around food creation. I always daydreamed replicating the dishes in those books. I also loved to watch a lot of Euromaxx and Business Traveller. I was always fascinated by all the food culture and fancy restaurants on the show. It’s there, I think. It’s there, I’ll say it all started.
Where did you first get your big break- well, before House of Chef, of course?
My first big break, I’ll say, was joining Chef Binta’s team Dine on A Mat, a nomadic dining experience celebrating Fulani cuisine, local and indigenous ingredients. It was here that my love for afro fusion cuisine became a mission. And it was through my boss and mentor Chef Binta I got nominated for House of Chefs.
You describe yourself as an Afro Pastry Chef. You have a deep regard for indigenous Ghanaian ingredients. Was this something you always liked?
Yes I’ll say it’s something I’ve always liked but it was not until the early stages of my career where I started to question myself about the kind of chef I wanted to be- the kind of dishes I wanted to explore and express. It took a while but I discovered I did not want to be one that follows the norm but rather the kind of chef that grounds himself in his culture as an identity. With every dining experience I realised that it was time to push the envelope and rethink Ghanaian ingredients.
You’re young and just starting and already shaking up menus and tables. What grounds you as a chef?
For me I’ll say passion, work ethics, humility, love for celebrating African flavours, curiosity, tenacity
You’ve probably been commended many times for your food. Can you give a name of someone whose compliment made you realize that you are definitely on the right track?
It was when Chef Binta, Worlds Best Chef awards Rising Star Winner complimented my food. I knew I had to be doing something right. I reckon that also spurred me into indulging and experimenting with more Ghanaian ingredients.
What flavours do you look out for when you’re cooking?
I usually love a balance of everything… mostly looking out for sweet and sour, mildly spicy indigenous African flavours and ones that evoke nostalgia
Fine dining is definitely your forte. What is your idea of a fine dining menu that would wow gourmands?
The story behind the dish; a celebration of local and seasonal produce, balance, creativity and play of textures and flavours. Dining is an experience and we need to carry it with us like a story made for history.
What sort of cuisine would you like to see more of on Ghanaian menus?
More of the northern cuisine. We need more Northern Ghanaian food everywhere really. They have some of the most savoury flavours and delights. And a precious thing about their foods is the keen element of sustainability- be it in cultivation, storage or food preparation.
Are there any chefs you look up to?
Yes there are. Chef Paola Velez, Chef Kris Harvey, Chef Fatmata Binta, Chef Dieuveil Malonga and Chef Siba Mtongana. These are exemplary people blessing tables with bounty. They inspire me because for them (cooking) its an art as well as a freeing outlet.
Now tell us more about you. What are your favourite things starting with food?
This is always a tough one. I think it’s safe to say I don’t have any favourite food and even most chefs rarely do have. But I’ll say this, I do so appreciate a home-cooked meal.
Easy. Palm wine and Red wine (Shiraz)
Place to eat?
Mama’s Cuisine inside Alliance Francaise. Absolutely divine.
Favourite take away spot?
Alhaji’s Wife Waakye. I love waakye. A lot.
What is in the stars for you now? You’re an award-winning chef with great prospects. What is next for Chef Joseph Odoom?
Well there’s more coming up. I’ll say I’m still in the early stages of my career and there’s a lot to learn and explore. It’s all about putting Ghanaian and African ingredients out there on the on the map and conquering the food scene globally. I’ll love to host afro fusion inspired pop up dinners across the globe, open up a unique afro fusion inspired restaurant, attain other honorary awards in the industry and be a source of inspiration to others. Food is culture, and I intend to be dynamic with each serving.