If all goes well, Liberia will soon have its first postwar culinary arts school: the Kola Culinary Institute (K.C.I.).
The school which is a proposed project of US-based Liberian professional chef, Chauncy Yarngo, doesn’t have a definite date about its opening due to a slow start in the fund-raising campaign. However, According to Chauncy, the core function of the proposed culinary school is to train local chefs about food safety, and the standard steps involved in preparing and presenting food.
Chauncy added, he thought about opening the culinary arts school two months ago when he visited Liberia and noticed that restaurants were not preparing food following the proper guidelines and standards which is intended to make sure foods are safe and healthy.
“Now it’s time to go and donate. Having a cooking school in Liberia is a must; not only is there a void, but Liberians and other African countries need to learn how to handle food safely,” he said. “I told myself that if I ever got back home, I would try to open a restaurant because I thought everyone already knew about food and safety standards and were privy to protocols when preparing food.
“But that was not the case when I finally had a chance to get back home. Therefore, I realized that there is a need for an organization to make sure restaurants prepare our food following the proper guidelines to make it safe and healthy,” the ambitious Liberian chef said.
Chauncy is based in a San Francisco. He migrated to the US in the early 2000s due to the civil war in Liberia and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Virginia.
The young Liberian chef, who has cooked for the likes of Will Smith, Jay Z and Rihanna, was introduced to cooking by his grandmother in Bong County who taught him a lot about cooking, including the traditional fufu dish – a traditional West African dish made from the tuber root, cassava.
Chauncy added that the proposed culinary school, upon establishment, will open with certificate programs which will run between six to twelve months.
“The school will offer certificates in two-fold: a certificate in cooking for six months and a certificate in restaurant management course and cooking for a year. Liberian and African foods, in general, are rich but due to the lack of culinary school in the country, they contain heavy starch filled and overloaded with processed spices.
“Furthermore, in restaurants across the country meats are cooked to a crisp and vegetables stewed beyond recognition. However, things will be different when the school is established to help train local chefs about food cooking standards and many more culinary arts courses,” he said.