It only took a few weeks for Mory Sacko to break into the illustrious circle of Michelin winners with his daring menu of African cuisine, refined with a few French and Japanese touches.
The tall 28-year-old was already a star of the French culinary show Top Chef when the Michelin Guide this week awarded a star to his restaurant Mosuke, the first in France for a cuisine centered on the culinary traditions of Africa from the ‘West and Center.
While many other chef companies have languished during the many months of Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, Sacko says his year has turned out “a little crazy, but very beautiful.” During the short period of freedom between France’s first and second Covid blockades last year, Sacko left his post as Thierry Marx’s sous chef at Mandarin Oriental, which holds two Michelin stars, to venture out on his own.
Its restaurant, located in the Montparnasse district to the south of the capital, quickly became the city’s darling after it opened in September, and two months of operation were enough for Michelin inspectors to give it the green light.
A few days before winning the Michelin star, he received the Young Chef Award from La Liste.
“I can already say that my year 2021 is even bigger than 2020 which was already exceptional,” Sacko wrote on social media. When the re-containment forced the closure of restaurants – with the exception of take-out – Sacko quickly looked for ways to turn challenges into opportunities by “revisiting the totem poles of street food.”
His restaurant quickly sold an average of 150 take-out meals a day. “The central theme for me is the fried chicken, which I serve every two weeks,” said Sacko in his bright, minimalist restaurant with a capacity of 30 people.
The chicken is cooked “with a Japanese frying method with little fat”, and served with Cajun mayonnaise or aioli.
“It is a reflection of the restaurant’s cosmopolitan identity,” said the chef. “When the confinement was announced, I said to myself: we are going to do street food, in tribute to black food, to the soul food of New Orleans,” he said.
Sacko was born and raised in France, but only knew French cuisine from the school canteen when he was a child. Instead, his mother’s cooking accustomed him to the range of West African tastes. “She is Malian, but was born in Ivory Coast and raised in Senegal,” Sacko said.
West African cuisine at home
“I ate West African cosmopolitan food at home and often went to eat Central African food with friends. I also know Congolese cuisine very well, ”he said.
During his training as a chef, he discovered traditional French dishes such as veal blanquette and beef bourguignon, perfecting his skills with Thierry Marx, whom he calls “the most Japanese of French chefs”.
But now that he has injected Africa “into the DNA” of his own restaurant, Sacko feels “a spokesperson for this new African cuisine”. Fans of French restaurants are much more familiar with North African dishes such as couscous and tagine, but sub-Saharan offerings are slowly catching on.
The Food Temple festival in Paris in September made Africa its main theme.
Not just rice
“My ambition is for customers to realize that African cuisine is not just a large plate of rice with sauces that are neither pretty nor delicate,” he said.
Among the fusion dishes at Mosuke, Sacko prepares a Breton sole with attiéké, a cassava semolina, fermented with natural acidity “that you eat on the sidewalk or in bars in Ivory Coast”. Sacko’s approach is perhaps best summed up in his approach to the traditional Senegalese chicken Yassa, “an African dish par excellence”, which in its version takes on a Japanese and French twist.
He uses young fatty chickens from northwestern France, onions from the Cévennes – “which are soft and sweet and provide a lot of roundness” – and onions from Roscoff in Brittany “with their slightly marine and crispy side”. He then adds Japanese yuzu and sudachi citrus for more power, and creamy Camargue rice.
This article was published via AFP Relaxnews.