Chef Emile Engoulou
Interview with Chef Emile Engoulou, President of the Cameroon's Association of Chefs and Pastry Chefs
Emile Engoulou is a famous chef in Cameroon, the owner and head Chef of the restaurant Le Club Municipal in Yaoundé, a major restaurant of the Urban Community of Yaoundé.
He is the head nutritionist/cook of the junior and cadet Indomitable Lions (the Cameroon national football team).
He is also the president of the Association of Chefs and Pastry Chefs in Cameroon, among other inter-professional responsibilities.
He has years of experience in the field.
[Chefs4Dev] Could you tell us about your career as a chef and how you came to be interested in cooking?
Cooking was a quite a late vocation for me. Initially, my dream was to be a competent and successful manager in the hospitality business. When I finished my studies, my first position in the company was Director of Catering, then Director of Operations, and General Manager when I started my own business…
So the call of the kitchen only came after a first career in hotel management. Feeding on the memories of precious moments stolen alone with my mother in the kitchen, and the talent of chefs with whom I had worked closely, I worked my way down an unusual path.
Cameroonian cuisine is known for its abundance, its diversity and its quality. What do you think are the opportunities it could seize?
The current trend of globalisation makes it easy to forge partnerships through which we can obtain both significant media exposure and a pooling of efforts to achieve our aims. The Chefs 4 Development initiative is a great occasion for Cameroonian chefs to learn from the experience of other members of the network, and at the same time it gives them a clear opportunity to showcase what they can do and the food from their environment and their cultural heritage. It is a real opportunity.
You are the President of the Association of Chefs and Pastry Chefs in Cameroon, which represents the biggest hotels in the country. Can you tell us more about the main activities for promoting local cuisine and the links with local producers and processors?
Promoting local cuisine is a statutory objective for the Association. Every chef takes particular care to master the culinary traditions of the region where they work, and our assemblies are often an opportunity to pool our experience and the achievements of our members. We have launched a movement to record recipes from our culinary heritage in order to develop traditional preparations into recipes that can guarantee the sustainability of each region’s gastronomic footprint.
There are few processors across the country, and the links with local producers need to be further developed to enable a productive dialogue that will allow us to meet the quality targets that our customers expect.
Do you think that head chefs have an even more strategic role to play in the promotion of gastronomic tourism at a local, regional and international level?
Head chefs have a vital role to play, at every level. They are the cornerstone of gastronomy. Their role is essential all along the process for producing authentic, even exceptional dishes. Their demands influence producers and lead to an improvement in production, as well as greater profitability; they are also a channel for increasing the quantity produced, with premium quality, and their talent brings out the best from every ingredient that they use.
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