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How African Restaurant Baobab Fare Found Success in Detroit

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He also had big dreams of bringing food from his home country to Detroit. He joined his local entrepreneurship program in 2017 and the couple won a prize of $50,000 to help open a restaurant. They finally opened the doors of the spacious restaurant. Baobab foodearly 2021, in the midst of a pandemic.

The voices of praise arrived one after another. In February, the couple were named Chef of the Year semifinalists for the second time. James Beard Awardand in March Mr. Mamba won an episode of “”.chopped, enter the Food Network cooking contest and win $10,000.now they are donating the prize money Freedom House Detroita non-profit organization that helped Nijimbele and asylum seekers like her escape persecution.

“The mamba is what the rest of humanity wants it to be,” said Elizabeth Orozco-Vazquez, chief executive of Freedom House Detroit.

Growing up in Burundi, East Africa, 42-year-old Mamba learned how to cook traditional local dishes from her mother, who owned a restaurant. She taught him to cook using his senses as well as her recipes, giving him the advantage in “chopped” when faced with unfamiliar proteins such as ostrich and scallops. But he said his cooking skills, which led to his appearance on the show, were nothing compared to his wife’s talent.

“I’m not even the best cook, Nadia,” he said.

But Nijimbele, 41, was not a limelight figure and did not want to appear on national television. Mamba nearly turned down the ‘chopped’ producers, but felt it was important to share their food and how the two refugees became small business owners, so he volunteered. decided to compete.

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