Selassie Atadika: A Culinary Maverick Navigating Ghana’s Flavorful Heritage

Meet Selassie Atadika, the culinary maestro shaking things up in Accra, Ghana. Picture this: she’s wrapping pieces of fish in banana leaves, orchestrating a culinary masterpiece alongside her vibrant kitchen crew at the Midunu headquarters. Midunu, Atadika’s brainchild, is not just about cooking; it’s a celebration of Africa’s rich cultural tapestry through scrumptious events.

The Midunu House is more than a venue; it’s a culinary haven where creativity and flavor collide. As the sun sets, sixty lucky guests will gather on the lawn, ready to embark on a gastronomic journey exploring the tastes of Central Africa.

Now, rewind a bit. Selassie Atadika didn’t just stumble into the world of culinary wonders; she ventured into humanitarian assistance across Africa with the United Nations before returning to Ghana in 2013 to kickstart her culinary journey. Why? To share the incredible flavors and ingredients she encountered during her travels across the continent.

For Atadika, it’s not just about cooking; it’s about preserving a legacy. She fears that Ghana’s traditional dishes are fading away in the wake of changing lifestyles and a reliance on imported foods. She vividly remembers the diverse foods, spices, and meals from her early years in Ghana, a stark contrast to the modern landscape.

Midunu isn’t just about serving delicious meals; it’s a movement. Atadika hosts nomadic dining pop-up dinners every two months, aiming to shine a spotlight on the diverse culinary treasures of the continent. Her mission: to rekindle interest in African cuisine, celebrate its heritage, and ensure traditional dishes aren’t lost to time.

In the Atadika kitchen, it’s a flurry of activity. Cooks expertly add sauces to plates or delicately open fresh cocoa pods for a surprise dessert. The living room, adorned with art and sculptures from across Africa, welcomes guests as they arrive. Soon, a five-course meal inspired by Atadika’s travels awaits, a journey through Gabon, Brazzaville, Kinshasa, and the Central African Republic.

Atadika’s culinary journey is a tale of passion and purpose. From trying dishes in South Sudan that mirrored her Ghanaian roots to witnessing how food binds communities in times of conflict, she’s seen it all. For her, food is a bridge connecting people, transcending borders and bringing stories to life.

As she crafts her dishes, Atadika doesn’t shy away from challenging norms. She serves foods often labeled for the poor, showcasing their nutritional value and indigenous roots. Her hope? That by championing local, nutritious foods, she can combat health issues like diabetes and support Ghanaian farmers.

In a world dominated by rice, fried foods, and commercial seasoning cubes, Atadika is a beacon of change. She introduces diners to lesser-known treasures like cheese from the north of Ghana and gives a fresh spin to West African jollof rice using fonio, a native grain.

But her mission doesn’t stop with the plate. Atadika dreams of inspiring a shift in mindset, urging people to embrace local foods grown by Ghanaian farmers. Her clients, often from the middle class, hold the power to drive this change by demanding local ingredients over imports.

As she ventures into 2018, Atadika remains steadfast in her commitment to showcasing Ghanaian cuisine. Preservation and sustainability are key for her, navigating the delicate balance between globalization, climate change, and culinary heritage. For Atadika, it’s not just about good food; it’s about preserving traditions, fostering sustainability, and embracing the Slow Food principles: good, clean, and fair. After all, her culinary journey isn’t just a feast for the senses; it’s a celebration of culture, a call to preserve, and a promise of a flavorful future.