This journey began in 2010 during Hackney Wicked Arts Festival where I live. I dragged a two ring Baby Belling table top stove outside my front door onto a small table and cooked up a huge pot of peanut butter stew with some just ripe plantains frying up next to it. My friend Ruth made a sign 'Zoe's Peanut Butter Stew' which we hung on the gate. The piquant smell of rich and spicy scotch bonnet infused peanut soup drew people over to our studio which was being used as a gallery space. It created a social gathering and a lot of conversation about Ghanaian food which almost no one eating had heard of. "You should do this again" customers and friends suggested. "Yeah maybe" was my unenthused reply - it had been fun though what did I know about catering? Nevertheless the following year over the same festival weekend we transformed our live/work studio into a restaurant space, making tables and benches and getting second hand plates and cutlery from Roman Road. I went to Ridley Road market and bought a tonne of colourful West African fabrics. I started to create a Spotify playlist of Afro beat and Hi life to provide ambience to the feasting and that weekend we sold out repeatedly. By the end I had a mailing list of over 200 people wanting to book again to eat Ghanaian food in my living room. And so the supper clubs were born, the supper clubs became event catering and pop up enquiries, then streetfood pitches, kitchen residencies across London and Berlin then a restaurant in Brixton and now a cookbook and 6 month kitchen residency at the Sun and 13 Cantons in Soho an area of London where we hope to open a new site in the next 12 months.
I deepened my understanding of West African cuisine after a trip in 2013 to visit my extended family in Ghana and research both recipes and family history for my MA in Creative and Life Writing. I spent time exploring recipes in my grandmother’s kitchen and at the famous Kaneshi street market, where I met with cooks who shared their own takes on traditional recipes.
Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen has always been about taking people on and sharing this amazing food journey - it’s about encouraging people to seek out new cultures through food and get people cooking and tasting African flavours both at home and when dining out. I want to see a world as well acquainted with Jollof as they are with tacos and a high street as diverse in its African cuisines as it is with it with Pan and South Asian food.
The journey continues and so does my passion to bring even more food from across Africa to the masses.