posted by Lauren Randolph
@yolelefoods | yolele.com
Pierre Thiam was supposed to travel to Ohio for college, but detoured to NYC on his way there. While in NYC he was robbed and didn’t have the money to make it to Ohio for his schooling. Rather than tell his parents what happened, he stayed in NYC working as a dishwasher to earn enough money to make it to college. However, Pierre was again deterred, but this time by finding his love for the kitchen. He never made it to Ohio, and instead worked his way up in the NY dining scene from dishwasher to Chef in fine dining European restaurants throughout the city.
The brand gets its name from Yolele, a common West African grain. Pierre had never cooked with yolele or any Sengalese food for that matter. Where he grew up in Senegal, only women cooked. He decided one day that he wanted to learn to cook the food he grew up with and eventually opened his own West African restaurant in Brooklyn.
Since opening his restaurant, Pierre has published two cookbooks on the food from his homeland. We not only love his passion for sharing his culinary knowledge, but the sustainability and taste of fonio. You can easily substitute Fonio for couscous, rice, or other grains when cooking and a big bonus is that it’s drought resistant! Pierre and his team work directly with local farmers to learn from them and help with food insecurity. Yolele is providing a way for these small local farmers, who are mostly women, to make a living.
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