Chef Akwasi Brenya-Mensa takes his Pan-African dining concept on a world tour
Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s Pan-African dining concept Tatale is going on tour to explore how the African diaspora has evolved around the world
Puerto Rico, Lisbon, Berlin: the locations on Akwasi Brenya-Mensa’s itinerary read like a destination wish list for those of us who haven’t had the chance to travel yet.
But this isn’t a holiday hit list – these are some of the places that Brenya-Mensa is taking his Pan-African dining concept Tatale on tour ahead of its London opening in June.
Tatale has been the talk of the town in London since its opening was announced at the end of 2021: Brenya-Mensa has been running his own sell-out supper clubs (previously under the name of Mensa, Plates & Friends) for several years.
Tatale is a showcase of Pan-African cooking, with a West African focus, and much of the inspiration derived from Brenya-Mensa’s Ghanaian heritage. It takes its name from a plantain pancake which, Brenya-Mensa says, “is synonymous with the Black experience” anywhere in the world.
Brenya-Mensa is Ghanaian, and was raised in Britain, and his aim is to reflect this duality in the food that will be served at Tatale. While there’s a stronger Ghanaian slant to the dishes, the idea is to open a conduit for the food across the African continent and facilitate building a community and creativity around the cooking.
This is also part of the reason why Brenya-Mensa is taking Tatale on tour: he wants to explore how the African diaspora has morphed and evolved according to its location. The tour began with an event at Soho House on the Strand in London, before heading to Puerto Rico, where Brenya-Mensa took part in Afronation, a series of events created to gather the cultural knowledge of the cuisines of the Black diaspora.
Brenya-Mensa is treating his tour not only as a chance to create delicious food, but to share his learnings around food prep, techniques and flavours around the world, all through his own playful take on African cooking.
Playfulness threads throughout Brenya-Mensa’s approach to Tatale. When the restaurant opens at the Africa Centre in June, the space will be inspired by a Ghanaian chop bar, a space traditionally designed to be the backdrop for lively conversations over food. Brenya-Mensa likens the chop bar’s place in Ghanaian culture to the casual drinking and socialising experience Brits get from going to the pub – but with less booze.
Tatale’s first bricks-and-mortar site will have 50 covers, bar seating and an outdoor terrace, where you’ll be able to explore dishes like nkatenkwan served with omo tuo – the groundnut soup served with a Hausa side dish of glutinous rice, cooked until soft and pounded, serving a similar function to fufu. Other highlights include the ‘cassava bravas’, a take on the beloved Spanish tapas dish.
Brenya-Mensa’s approach to cooking and creating his restaurant is everything eating in 2022 should be: a celebration of community and collaboration and, of course, utterly delicious.
Tatale tour dates:
Tatale at Bar Bario
Brenya-Mensa heads to Black-owned, women-led bar Bar Bario in Amsterdam for one evening, for a celebration of the community dedicated to queer people of colour.
Gastronomy Summit, Ulster University
Brenya-Mensa will be hosting a dinner for the delegates of the Gastronomy Summit 2022, which brings together members of the global gastronomic community to explore and celebrate the transformative power of food, drink and hospitality. Brenya-Mensa will also appear on a panel with journalist, food writer, and author, Melissa Thompson, and culinary historian, Dr. Jessica B Harris (Netflix’s High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, and author of 12 critically acclaimed cookbooks documenting foods and the foodways of the African diaspora).
From Caparica With Love Festival
Kitchen Takeover at the debut festival from Who The Fuck Is Henry at Palms Dr Bernard, Costa da Caparica.
Tatale x Gather at Jaja Berlin
Brenya-Mensa joins Ella Yarnton of Gather: a concept started in London, now in Berlin that focuses on the food’s ability to connect people, spark conversation and create social change. Gather uses food as a way to bring people together within their community, and this event will also be making a charitable donation.