Seasonal, zero-waste eating
Chef Fatmata Binta recognises food’s vital role in bringing people together on a profound level. She was recently awarded the 2022 Basque Culinary World Prize for her Dine on a Mat experience. “Dine on a Mat is something I started four or five years ago,” Binta explains. “If you look at the world now, it’s moving so fast. I wanted to create something that reflects on how we are eating, not just for sustenance but also enjoying the meal. It should be something you make time for. You connect with other people.”
Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Binta is now based in Accra, Ghana, where she draws inspiration from the Fulani people, a nomadic ethnic group prevalent throughout West Africa. Binta’s food is inspired by the age-old Fulani practices of seasonal, zero-waste eating and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. “Seasonal eating is very important. Nature has done it all for us; we just need to tap into that,” says Binta.
She draws on Fulani ingredients, dishes and cooking methods as part of her Dine on a Mat experience to create awareness of the versatility and ingenuity of their culinary culture. Fonio, for example, is an ancient, gluten-free grain indigenous to West Africa that Binta says carries a special significance in her dishes. “A big part of my menu is Fonio. It’s actually the only starch I use for now because it’s sustainable. With what is happening in the world, I think it’s a big lesson that we should be nationally sustainable going forward.”
If you have a sweet tooth, Binta has you covered. “My signature dish is a dessert. In African cuisine, we are not big on desserts. I call the dish My Africa, which is a dish made of superfoods, like moringa and baobab, which is very high in Vitamin C, and cassava flakes and I always plate it with ice-cream… maybe millet ice cream.”