Join NatFAB Research Fellow Dr. Howard Conyers for a dinner at SoFAB with Chef Serigne Mbaye, a Senior Line Cook at Commander's Palace.
In life, we come across people with amazing stories and significant talent. Conyers Family BBQ was fortunate to meet Chef Seringe while hosting Jollof to Jambalaya featuring Chef Pierre Thiam. His spirit and work ethic led to this collaboration between Chef Serigne and Howard Conyers, to present a Senegalese Creole Fusion dinner of five delicious courses made with locally sourced ingredients. Even more fascinating than his food is Chef Serigne's remarkable story and how he got to Commander's Palace.
About the Chef
Although he was born an American citizen, Serigne Mbaye spent much of his childhood in a religious boarding school in West Africa, separated from his family. Serigne returned to the United States and his family at age 14. His time out of the country made regular high school difficult, but he discovered a love of cooking one Thanksgiving when he decided to tackle the job of cooking the turkey for his family. After finishing high school he attended the New England Culinary Institute, received The Gold Spoon Medal, the culinary equivalent of being awarded valedictorian, and then began working for one of the best restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio. After working and learning in the restaurant for a few months, Serigne was inspired to reconnect with his West African background by Chef Pierre Thiam, a James Bear nominated Chef who was the first to write a Senegalese cookbook in English. On return for a month long visit to Senegal, Serigne connected with Cliff Hall, the co-owner of the New Orleans Fish House, who ended up helping him make his way to New Orleans. Serigne began working at the renowned restaurant Commander's Palace, where he is now a Senior Line Cook.
Howard Conyers, a resident of New Orleans' Central City neighborhood, has been lauded for his mastery of the old fashioned, South Carolina-style whole-hog pit barbecue he learned as a child from his father in the rural Pee Dee area of Manning, South Carolina. He barbecued his first hog at age 11, and when he was in high school he regularly tended the pits all night for family holiday celebrations and gatherings of the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America. His young mind wandered through the hours he spent tending pits. A budding scientist, he tied his barbecue craft to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Dr. Conyers holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke University, and works with NASA testing rocket engines at the Stennis Space Center on the Mississippi-Louisiana border.