I’m Elijah Amoo Addo,a 26 years old Ghanaian born in Accra,Ghana.I currently stay and work in Ghana and other parts of Africa precisely Nigeria,Togo,Benin,Liberia,etc. I am the only boy among a family of four children. Growing up my childhood dream was to become a medical doctor however fate had it for me to become a chef and that’s why today my colleagues call me the “doctor in the kitchen”.I lost my parents at age 12 which made me relocate to stay with my aunty in Lagos to school. The last encounter I had with my mum was eating together with her.Whiles in Lagos,I schooled during the day and help my aunty with her catering business during the night and weekends.This made me realize my passion for cooking at age 15. I took up a job in a restaurant as kitchen porter whilst still in school.
One day in a hurry to go home,I threw an olive sauce my head chef had prepared thinking it was waste.This made the chef furious to the extent of throwing pans at me with insults.I started crying and yelled out”Do you think if my parents were alive,I would be here as a cleaner whiles my colleagues are in school.This touched the Head Chef who started mentoring me and supported me through my vocational school in Sphinx Vocational Training in Lagos and gave me my first job as commis after school. On the day of graduation,wearing the white jacket,I felt my mum was proud of me for becoming a doctor in the kitchen and vowed to use my profession to make the world a better place.
After training,my mentor chef gave me a job in his restaurant,Marios,then one of the busiest restaurant in Lagos,Nigeria as a commis,I took every instruction from my seniors as training as it’s done in the military and this enabled me learn quickly on the job. In 2010,I return to Ghana to help a Lebanese businessman who saw my work in Lagos,to open Chase Restaurant,after 1 year,I went back to Lagos at the invitation of my principal to work in their Hotel for six months.Through this period I rose through the ranks to become Sous Chef.
In 2012,I got the role of heading the kitchen of +233 Jazz bar in Accra,during that time,I got promoted to become Secretary of the Greater Accra Chefs Association,a branch of Ghana Chefs Association. During my period,I worked with the leadership of the Association to rebrand and focus on training of student chefs to improve the standards of delivery on the job market.
My role got me offers to cook and support food brand promotion initiatives of corporate Ghana.With companies such as Nestle Ghana,Finatrade,Ghana Cocoa Board,FARA and many others.
In 2011 whiles in Ghana,I came into contact with a mentally challenged man who recovered leftover food from street vendors to feed his colleague mentally challenged on the streets.This inspired me to start the Chefs for Change Ghana Foundation,an NGO that recovered excess food from hospitality companies to feed the vulnerable in society and advocate against food wastage and hunger.
In 2015,Chefs for Change became Food for All Africa programme,a social enterprise that operates West Africa’s first food bank in Ghana by creating sustainable means of nutrition for vulnerable children,aged and mentally challenged through food banking,farming and forum for stakeholders within Ghana’s food supply chain. SDG 2 Farms is a subsidiary of my social enterprise group that buys farm products of rural farmers and sell to hotels and hospitality companies in urban Accra.This we use to create efficiency within the food supply chain and empower rural farmers from poverty.
The last restaurant I opened in Accra is Burger and Relish,Ghana’s first gourmet burger joint in 2015 before dedicating my life to social entrepreneurship and food styling.My inspiration in my culinary journey has been my late mummy,a very good cook who I accidently learned the golden rule of being a good cook from.
As a chef having had the experience of working with different ingredients from different parts of the world,I must confess that African gastronomie has the potential of being recognized across the world if more training and practical attention is given to scientifically cooking our cuisines.In simple terms African cuisines needs to be taken seriously by Africans. It is the fundamental identity of African tourism. More vocational training and competitions needs to be given to our cuisines. African Chefs United is doing a great job in that regard however more work needs to be done. Chef Citrum Khumalo is one African chef,that inspires me so much. He is the Madiba of African gastronomie.
Today through the Chefs For Change Ghana foundation,we are working with public and private stakeholders to inculcate in African children,the spirit of cooking and seeing African gastronomie as part of the African story. Every World Chefs Day,I spend time with students teaching them of the importance of African gastronomie to the economic emancipation of Africa.
Food plays a major role in the economic emancipation of the African continent.Until Africa is able to sell it’s food as part of its tourism potential to the world, little can be achieved in overcoming poverty on the continent. African Food is our Life and we must sell it to the world.