Few cooks in the world have been so talked about recently as Fatmata Binta, universally known as Chef Binta - which is also the name of her Instagram account where she is very active. Born in Freetown, the battered capital of Sierra Leone, of Guinean descent, Binta now lives in Accra, the capital of Ghana, three states further east in West Africa.
But it is the movement that most defines this woman and the people to whom she belongs and whom she strongly supports every day: the Fulani, a nomadic ethnic group made up of millions of people who move across the spectrum between Morocco and Cameroon. Binta is a modern-day nomadic chef, a cook who has traversed and picked up techniques, ingredients and ways of life from all the places she has passed through. An author and advocate of her roots, she has a background of classical cuisine. This combination allows her to create dishes that are modern in concept, yet simple and authentic.
Ancient grains, indigenous spices, but also many foodstuffs long denied or unavailable to ordinary people due to the conflicts of regions ravaged by war and famine. “Make something out of nothing” was her mantra for a long time: to devise meals from scratch for the crowded Fulani polygamous families, perhaps by continually cleaning rice of cockroaches and mixing it with bulgur to ensure sufficient quantities for everyone. And fonio, a super grain with important properties and enormous potential, about which she will talk at Identità Milano. The real fetish ingredient.
Food for sustenance is the key on which Chef Binta has grafted a constant and tireless commitment to carry out unique projects: the creation of Dine on a Mat, a nomadic restaurant that has already spread knowledge of ancestral techniques to three continents, and the Fulani Kitchen Foundation, a foundation for women and girls from all the regions crossed by the Fulani, to meet social and educational needs and transform ingredients (such as fonio itself) into sources of income, economic independence, food and job security for these rural communities. Commitments that have already earned her an important recognition: the Basque Culinary World Prize 2022.
Being Fulani is my journey by Sorrel Moseley-Williams, World of Topia
This article is curated by Identità Golose, the publication that organises the international fine dining congress, publishes website www.identitagolose.com and the online Guida Identità Golose, on top of curating many other events in Italy and abroad
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Some of the speakers who will talk in the Auditorium at the 18th edition of Identità Milano, from the 28th to 30th of January
THE FULL PROGRAMME HERE
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Leonor Espinosa and Fatmata Binta, both special guest speakers in the Auditorium at Identità Milano 2023: the Colombian chef will give a talk with her daughter Laura Hernandez on Sunday 29th January at 3.40 p.m.; the Sierra Leonean chef on Saturday 28th at 4.20 p.m.
The 18th edition of Identità Milano 2023 is just around the corner. HERE IS THE COMPLETE PROGRAMME IN PROGRESS