Interest in cuisine-focussed travel experiences has grown exponentially over the years. And Although Africa hasn’t always been top of mind for foodies, it’s slowly earning its rightful place at the culinary tourism table.
“People around the world are only just discovering the wonders of African food. In fact, many Africans are only just discovering it too,” says Chef Fatima Binta, owner of Fulani Test Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant based in Accra, Ghana.
“In many parts of the continent, food is traditionally viewed as being primarily for sustenance. However, this mindset is quickly changing. Gastronomy in Africa is going through a revolution, and it’s very exciting.”
As a successful Sierra Leonean chef, Chef Binta provides immersive dining experiences which introduce Africans and international visitors to the cuisine culture of the Fulani — the largest nomadic ethnic group in West Africa.
“The idea behind Fulani Test Kitchen wasn’t just about the cooking, but the story behind the food and the experience of serving guests,” she adds. “Growing up as a Fulani girl in a village gave me many fond memories. I decided to bring that into my cooking, highlighting cuisine from the Fulani people.”
Her efforts to promote Africa’s gastronomy offering not only reflects a shifting interest in local food across the continent, but mirrors a rising demand for bucket-list experiences during the back-to-travel boom predicted in 2022.
“Having been grounded for so long, we’re going to see travellers increasingly excited to visit destinations where they can try activities they’ve never done before, and taste food they’ve never tried before,” she adds.
“In Africa, there is a strong connection between food and culture, which is highly appealing to visitors. Our food is also closely linked to our history. It tells a story that ties into the spirit of tourism, which is largely based on learning about other people and their way of life.”
Chef Binta further describes how the culinary scene is gaining momentum, particularly across West Africa. “Ghana has quickly evolved into a buzzing hub, and there are many new and exciting trends starting here, not only when it comes to food, but music and fashion, which provides a great boost for tourism across the continent.”
What’s also important to note is that culinary tourism in Africa provides the opportunity to promote sustainability across the continent by encouraging a more mindful approach to how we experience food.
“In the Fulani culture, we have a very sustainable way of living. In my case, I try not to waste anything. I also source everything locally, which helps support our surrounding communities,” Chef Binta explains.
“By promoting local cuisine to other Africans and international visitors, we can draw attention to the importance of cutting back on overconsumption. We can use our offerings to educate others on the importance of being more intentional about how we live and interact with the world,” she concludes.
Click here for more information on Fulani Test Kitchen. Chef Binta is currently based in Accra, where her Dine on a Mat experience draws guests to sample Fulani dishes while participating in a truly immersive cultural experience.