Barbecue without borders: Metz chefs inspired by West African traditions

In the Red, White & Taste promotion celebrating the Summer Games in France, Metz Culinary Management’s seasonal festivities focus on West African barbecue plates, along with familiar regional American variations on the smoky theme.
Senegal street market
A street market in Senegal | Photo: Shutterstock

Barbecue is an American legacy, but the smoky science and art of the ‘cue stretches far beyond our borders. Different regions of barbecue in this country can be vastly different as it is—think Eastern Carolina’s sauce vs. the western part—and the chefs of Metz Culinary Management are taking it even further for a summer promotion that will touch on barbecue around the globe, with a big focus on West Africa.

The “Red, White & Taste” summer promotion, taking place now until Aug. 11, will bring smoky, succulent barbecue goodness to all Metz corporate and onsite kitchens with a dozen different, internationally inspired, barbecue-based entrees along with other classic summertime staples.

Metz Corporate Chef Xavier Smith sees this as an opportunity to “excite diners who have never encountered these wonderful international flavor profiles, as well as delight those who are familiar with them, but seldom find them,” he says, sharing credit with the team who developed the recipes, Culinary Director John Selick and Healthcare Division Chef Hannah Avarez.

Proteins are being provided by Brookwood Farms in Siler City, NC, where Jerry Wood founded the business in 1978 and has passed it down through four generations of pitmasters dedicated to pit-smoked Southern barbecue. Their methods, which haven’t changed much in those decades, include stainless steel pit ovens heated by hickory charcoal.

Starting with a familiar American barbecue plate, pulled pork and baked beans, the promotion takes off on an international flight from there with barbecue inspiration mainly from West Africa, a bit of Vietnam (lettuce cups with pulled meat inside) and a few regional American barbecue dishes for good measure.

Barbecue seems like a fitting way to celebrate the international nature of the Summer Games, Smith finds, “bringing people from around the world to share their lives and experiences. We wanted this year’s Red, White and Taste promotion to give diners a taste of that.”

Here’s a taste of some of the items from the promotion:

Beef Suya

Beef Suya

Photo courtesy of Metz Culinary Management. 

This West African dish of spiced beef studded with sweet potatoes and onions is set apart from the crowd with suya sauce, made with coconut milk, peanuts and cilantro. Suya, also known as tchintchinga, is traditionally marinated meat threaded on skewers to cook, and originated in Northern Nigeria, spreading over West Africa and Sudan as time went by. It’s currently one of the best-known Nigerian street foods.

Suya spice, or Yahi, like many spice blends, varies by region. You can find Suya spice in specialty stores, or make an approximation with cayenne pepper, onion powder, ground ginger, white pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, bouillon cubes and peanut powder.

Beef Dibi

Beef Dibi

Photo courtesy of Metz Culinary Management. 

Dibi is a Senegalese dish traditionally made with lamb and usually sold by street vendors and served in a brown paper bag to catch all the delicious drippings. It’s also called Afra in other parts of Africa, like Guinea and Gambia. The meat is cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with a mustard-based rub before grilling. Since Senegal is a former French colony, you will often see Dibi served on a baguette as a sandwich.

Akara Black-eyed Pea Fritters

akara black eyed pea fritters

Photo courtesy of Metz Culinary Management. 

A West African version of hushpuppies crossed with beignets, these fritters are savory, spicy and fluffy inside with a crunchy exterior. These are traditionally a breakfast item, but would fit the bill for an appetizer as well. They’re known as akla in Ghana, Kosai in Cameroon and Bean Akara in Sierra Leone, and have also made their way to Brazil, as acaraje, where they’re sliced open and stuffed with avocado or shrimp.

African Vegetable and Peanut Stew

African peanut stew

Photo courtesy of Metz Culinary Management. 

This could be the dish most Americans have tried as an intro to West African cuisine. Also known as Maafe, sauce d’arachide or tigadeguena, this stew is a cozy staple that’s easy for American chefs to make in one pot for a flavorful—and easily vegan—dish. In Senegal, it’s served family-style, over rice or couscous. Its cultural cousins include Filipino Chicken Adobo and Hungarian Chicken Paprikash.



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