Created by Michelin Tire founders Andre Michelin, along with his brother Edouard Michelin— the Michelin Guide is the world’ most renowned restaurant guide. However, Africa has never received a Michelin star badge since the award’s first edition. Congolese chef Dieuveil Malonga wants to change that.
“Something is happening now in Africa, and people are interested in knowing more about African cuisine,” assures Malonga. “There is immense diversity. Take the example of Nigeria, in one day you can eat more than 20 types of food,” Malonga told AFP.
Born near Brazzaville, in the Republic of Congo, Malonga spent his teenage years in Münster, Germany after the death of his parents. There, he lived with a family and soon after joined a cooking school. He went on to work in several German restaurants, including the triple Michelin-starred Aqua in Wolfsburg, then in France at the Intercontinental Hotel in Marseille.
Throughout the years, the Congolese chef improved his cuisine skills in Europe’s top restaurants but says he owes his success to grandmothers across Africa— where he has visited 38 countries, learning techniques such as smoking and fermentation, combining traditional spices and condiments to his dishes.
“I travel to different countries, I learn from grandmothers, and then I take these old recipes and I bring them to my laboratory here, and I try with my chefs, to bring a touch of modernity there,” he told AFP, adding that he uses small peppers from Côte d’Ivoire, pèbè nuts from Cameroon and other ingredients like mbinzo caterpillars from the Congo to occupy an entire wall of his restaurant.
After being so connected to Africa, Malonga decided to come back to the continent for good. In 2020, he opened his restaurant Meza Malonga.
The ‘Malonga table’ attracts a clientele of affluent locals, expatriates and tourists— for a total bill of around 130 euros. The 10-course menu includes sweet potato marinated tuna, cassava powdered shrimp and coffee espuma with peanut crumble.
Passionate about products, the chef likes to wander the alleys of the Nyamata farm, an hour from Kigali, where he stocks up on aromatic herbs and edible flowers.
By 2023, he hopes to “create something big” by opening a new restaurant in the rural northern region of Musanze, at the foot of the Virunga mountain range.
He revealed that the second incarnation of Meza Malonga will serve as a training ground for the next generation of Africa’s top chefs and, who knows, make Meza Malonga the first Michelin Star restaurant In Africa.