Ghanaian entrepreneurs Lloyd and Adwoa Hagan-Mensah of Raymond's Blanc's BBC2 series The Restaurant have launched London's first Ghanaian cookery school.
The East-London based school marks the start of the couple's five-year plan to take Ghanaian cuisine into the mainstream via their catering firm Jollof Pot. They would like to see Ghanaian food achieve the high-street popularity of other ethnic cuisines, such as Indian and Chinese. Core to their strategy is cooking for British customers and adapting recipes to the western palate.
Adwoa explains: "African restaurants are still cooking for their community, rather than British diners. They don't have the confidence to put themselves in the mainstream. We have to have the courage to do this but it means adapting our cuisine to the western palate."
Adaptations have included toning down the spices and stripping back traditional ingredients that are less appealing to the British public, such as snails and cows' feet. "We're trying to do what Indian and Chinese foods had to do to become mainstream," she explains. "We're the first caterers to have a non-African target audience."
Thanks to the growing popularity of ethnic cuisine, it has become a lot easier to get hold of core Ghanaian ingredients such as okra, spices and yam. This will aid Jollof's endgame of breaking into the frozen food market. The Hagan-Mensahs are in talks with supermarkets in plans to supply their sauces for the premium end of the market and expect to see Jollof Pot products on supermarket shelves "within the next year or so".
Jollof Pot is also hoping to exploit the recessionary trend for takeaways by providing a new option for a home delivery service."People are ready for an alternative," says Adwoa. "They like choice and there is a gap in the market that we need to fill."
It appears that future Britons may be 'Going for a Ghanaian'.