'King of New African Cuisine' Serves Up Support for ASC

African Services is grateful to Chef Pierre Thiam, James Cohan Gallery, DJ Yoossouph the many volunteers, our generous sponsors KIND Snacks and Heineken USA and all who gathered in support of African Services' Community Kitchen. And also a big thank you to Javier Chavarria | for brilliantly capturing the magnificent evening!

African Services Committee’s “Come to the Table” Kitchen Campaign benefit featuring Senegalese master Chef Pierre Thiam kicked off with a magnificent show of support surrounded by the brilliant work of renowned Ethiopian artist Elias Sime at Chelsea's James Cohan Gallery on June 14. The campaign aims at raising critical support for ASC’s kitchen, nutrition education and food programs, which have taken big budget cuts in the last year.

The evening began with Chef Thiam demonstrating his delectable recipe for “miracle grain” fonio and mango salad, followed by an intimate family style dinner comprising the fonio and mango salad, blue fish with spiced parsley stuffing and jollof rice with spring vegetables, grilled chicken with lemon onion confit, collard greens and ground peanuts (sauce feuilles), and coconut rice pudding with hibiscus coulis.

While dining, attendees learned more about African Services’ Kitchen Campaign and ASC’s impact on the community from ASC’s Advocacy Director, Amanda Lugg, Host and ASC Board Member, Jane Cohan, ASC Board Chair, Uzoamaka N. Okoye, Chef Thiam, ASC Founder and Co-Executive Director Asfaha Hadera and Co-Executive Director Kim Nichols.

“Food and resources are meant to be shared,” said African Services Committee’s Founder and Co-Executive Director, Asfaha Hadera, as he presented a gift of thanks to Chef Thiam. “We are so very grateful for your support, Chef, and to all those who are here on this special night.”

As dinner guests finished up their coconut rice pudding, the After Party began at an adjacent space in the gallery with beats by Nigerian DJ Yoossouph and Chef Thiam’s dinner items served on small disposable bamboo bowls.

African Services is grateful to Chef Pierre Thiam, James Cohan Gallery, DJ Yoossouph the many volunteers, our generous sponsors KIND Snacks and Heineken USA, and all who gathered in support of African Services' Community Kitchen. Also a big thank you to Javier Chavarria | for brilliantly capturing the evening (Check out his photos of the evening here).

Weeks before the special event, Chef Thiam visited African Services Committee’s community kitchen, where ASC staff and clients joined the chef as he cooked up a delicious, healthy feast using ASC’s food pantry. Click here to see the video.

“The meal we had today was everything that you’d find in African Services' food pantry. Almost everyday of the week there’s someone cooking up a communal meal and using those ingredients from the food pantry,” said ASC’s Co-Executive Director Kim Nichols. 

"Bringing Pierre was a coup for us because we have the pantry, we have the food, we have the kitchen, we have the people who are hungry, and we have a master chef who comes to help us prepare that food and catapulting to something much better than what you would see on the shelves or in the can. We’re trying to support our kitchen and our nutrition education and food programs, which have taken some big budget cuts in the last year. It is one of the most important services we provide. I don’t have to convince you that food is the key to happiness.”

Would you like to donate to ASC’s Community Kitchen Campaign? Click here and designate you donation to ASC’s Community Kitchen Campaign.

'Come to the Table' Hosts and Board of Directors
Kim Nichols, Asfaha Hadera, Julie Mehretu, Jessica Rankin, Linda Genereux, Jane Cohan, Uzoamaka N. Okoye, Gerald Pambo Awich, Marissa Jackson, Denise Bennett, Klancy Miller, Wallace D'Souza, Demetri Blanas, N. Ordover, Mary Moran  
After Party Hosts
Sondah Outarra, Audrey Nyarko, Adeola Saul, Maureen Martin, Ani Toncheva

African Services' food pantry serves more than 6,500 individuals and families each year in need of supplemental nutrition. In addition to supplemental nutrition, pantry staff and the nutrition program team led weekly nutrition and cooking classes since 2012 to assist clients in making the right nutrition choices for themselves and their families. Although funding for our coveted nutrition education program has been dealt funding cuts, we still offer a food pantry, including weekly fresh bread donations from Orwasher’s Bakery and organic fruits and vegetables in the summer months through a partnership with the Central Harlem Community Supported Agriculture Program.

Here is what ASC Nutrition Program participants had to say about the program, which in five years served nearly 100,000 nutritious meals to hundreds of immigrant families. 

“The nutrition program at ASC is, first of all, needed. I’m impressed that it is so multicultural and consistently supportive. Every time you come, the treatment is very professional and humane,” said ASC Nutrition Program client, Louise from Puerto Rico.

“ASC’s nutrition program team makes a point to provide quality food and there is a lot of thought behind the workshops and behind all the food choices they make. I know they really care. You don’t find that too often.”

“I’m very sad that this program is going away. There are a lot of people out there that really need these services. Programs like this should not be vanishing. We can’t get discouraged. If there is anyway I can advocate to bring this program back to ASC I want to do that. Franco, Youma and Shana -- We will miss you all!”

- ASC Nutrition Program client, David from Guiana

“Thank you Shana and your team. Wherever you all go you will continue to be a light in the tunnel, giving hope to those who are hopeless. Shana has been a great mentor and has been here for me since I first came to America. We will all pray that the program will get some funding so it can continue to help others like it has helped me. There are so many others who really need this program. Thank you for being there for us. We appreciate you. We love you.”

- ASC Nutrition Program client, Eric from Jamaica

“When I heard the news the nutrition program was closing I was so sad. When I came to this country I didn’t know anyone.  I had no food. This program has helped me so much. ASC is very special: The staff shows so much love to their clients — like a big family — and it feels like Africa. The [nutrition] program helps us with so many things.”

- ASC Nutrition Program client Aminata from Burkina Faso

“The nutrition program has been very helpful for me because I came here to also help my children — my 1-year old and 3-year old. So whatever food and knowledge I got from the program went to my family. I am not happy at all about the program closing, but this is life and I hope that one day the program will come back. I’m sad.”