Nigeria is often referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, being both the most populous and wealthiest nation on the continent. The combination of a long history, diverse population and varied geography provides a fertile soil for a complex and varied cuisine, but one sadly underrepresented in Toronto.
Nigerian cuisine, like West African cuisine in general, is known for its richness and variety. Many different spices, herbs and ingredients provide a broad pallet for deeply flavoured dishes, often enlivened with a chilli pepper kick. Nigerian feasts are colourful and lavish; market and street foods are plentiful and varied.
Chef Beko — aka Beko The Food Mixologist — has been reaching into this rich tradition and combining it with his classical Western training to bring to Toronto a sophisticated take on what Nigerian food can be.
A classic spice mix of the countless street-side barbeques in Nigeria, suya is a complex and potent mix of powdered peanuts, chiles and spices used to season grilled meats; each blend personal and unique to the chef and the region. Here fresh black tiger shrimp gets the suya treatment, served grilled over a homemade cheddar buttermilk biscuit infused with a drop of Chef’s homemade hot sauce.
Egusi & Fufu
A quintessential taste of West Africa. melon or gourd seeds (egusi), Norwegian stockfish (a relative of salt cod), crayfish, beef and spinach form the basis of a intensely flavourful ‘soup’ (actually a thick stew) that is scooped up with small handfuls of fufu, a thick, soft dough of pounded yam.
Beef Shoulder with Beans Pottage
Beans pottage is Nigerian staple with myriad regional variations, a mix of legumes such as honey beans & black eyed peas stewed with sweet plantain, onion, tomato, ground crayfish and aromatic African herbs. Here it is topped with tender sous vide beef shoulder and accompanied with honey-glazed carrots & fresh green beans.
Chilled Citrus Compote
Shot glass of small pieces of mixed citrus supremes, splash of orange blossom water, chiffonade of mint.
Nigerian-style soft yeasted doughnuts — a popular street snack — served with malted whipped cream, a dusting of icing sugar, chocolate drizzle and fresh berries.
At the age of 4, a young Beko first visited Nigeria, a discovery that would change his life forever and plant the seed of a life-long desire to share the gifts of Nigeria with the world. Since then Chef Beko — aka Beko The Food Mixologist — has been cultivating his passion for Nigerian cuisine. Graduating from Humber Culinary in 2010, Chef Beko developed a person style of cooking merging traditional Nigerian flavours and ingredients with classic Western techniques. Chef Beko has cooked in various restaurants around the GTA, from Mark McEwan’s ONE Restaurant to 17 Steakhouse. In 2017, Chef Beko launched a catering project focussing on high-end, Afro-centric, Nigerian-inspired modern cuisine. To take part in Chef Beko’s journey, follow him and his one-of-a-kind creations on Instagram @bekothefoodmixologist.
“To me, good food goes with good conversations, good food goes with good laughs, and good food definitely goes a long way” —Beko The Food Mixologist.
Every weekend The Depanneur invites a guest chef to host a fun, family-style dinner party.