Tuesday, July 16, 2013

African Development for the Kitchen: Ghana Kitchen-wear

During this trip to Ghana, BETUMI is working with a talented young designer at Low Design Office (who happens to be my son) and local seamstresses and tailors to design and sew a line of  “Made in Ghana” culinary "wear." (Note in the photo below that the sewing machines are not electric). It’s a great way to support local women by giving them access to wider markets. It's also a way to add a unique African touch to your kitchen, or the perfect gift for someone special. If there is interest, there are plans to develop a complete line of Ghanaian chefwear, including chef jackets. What do you think? Let us know and check back for more information on ordering soon.

Friday, July 12, 2013

BETUMI Photo Exhibit at Penn State

Though I'm in Ghana, my thoughts are turning towards the upcoming fall semester that begins at Penn State in August. Helen Sheehy, Head of the Social Sciences and Donald W. Hamer Map Libraries, has curated an exhibit of photos from BETUMI that graces the entrance to the undergraduate social sciences library at the University Park campus of Penn State. I am grateful for the exposure, and hopeful that some of the undergraduates may stop to check out the exhibit and be enticed to sign up for the fall offering of my African Foodways course (AFR297B).

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Flair turns 45!

I've been in Ghana for almost 2 weeks. The highlight so far was celebrating Flair Catering's 45th Anniversary and the graduation of its 2013 class. Barbara Baeta (and her catering company and school) is legendary in her commitment to setting standards in the hospitality industry in Ghana, as well as championing Ghana's classic cuisines while preparing a wide array of international dishes with equal ease. Barbara truly brings "flair" to everything she touches. I feel honored to know her and to have been able to join them for this special time. 

While waiting  in a bank this morning I happened to see an editorial in one of the local papers. The writer was lamenting the failure of customer service in the hospitality industry in Ghana after over 50 years of independence. Then he stated that Barbara Baeta and Flair have restored his faith in the hope that dedicated, honest, creative, hardworking individuals like her and her legacy of trained professionals, offer hope for Ghana, and for Africa as a whole. It was a moving tribute.

The graduation speaker this year was Mrs. Lordina Mahama, the wife of Ghana's current President. It turns out she was a graduate of Flair, and in the 1990s earned the coveted "Barbara Baeta Award" for her outstanding accomplishments while

a student. The graduates were inspired and eager to continue Flair's traditions. Mrs. Mahama also donated a new 6-burner cookstove to the school, and promised 2,000 bags of cement for the long-dreamed of expansion of the school in a new location.

It struck me how the students truly understood the vocation before them, as they (and former students as well) transitioned effortlessly from honored graduates to earnest caterers: after the graduation on Friday, serving the hundreds of guests refreshments they had prepared , as well as at a luncheon held on Sunday after a service of Thanksgiving at Ridge Church. I was also touched by the devotion, respect,  and love they obviously have for their beloved "Auntie Shika."