Dakar, Senegal’s First Restaurant Week Is Worth Checking Out

Restaurant weeks have been a part of foodie culture for as long as anyone can remember. Even so, these highly anticipated annual events are generally only thought of as something that happens in the world’s more well-known food-centric cities: New York, London, San Francisco, Paris…

The truth is, there are food lovers everywhere. Afua Hirsch wrote for The Guardian about foodies in Ghana, and this week, Senegal joined the ranks of foodie cities with the first ever Dakar Restaurant Week.

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week founders Shruti Dhanda (l) and Diarra Gueye, hard at work

Dakar Restaurant Week (DRW) founders Shruti and Diarra met during college in Minnesota, but they couldn’t have come from more diverse backgrounds. Diarra, Senegalese by birth, moved to Norway as a teenager to attend school, and Shruti is originally from India, but grew up in the Philippines. They both quit their high-flying jobs in Los Angeles and New York to follow what makes them truly happy, and much of their joy is centered around food. For Diarra, Senegalese culture is all about eating out and dressing up. “You’ll go broke,” she says, “but it’s our culture.” At the same time, Senegalese people have reservations about eating out. “Saying that you’re going to a restaurant is like saying that you’re taking a trip to Vegas. It’s seen as something that’s for the very rich,” Shruti explains, adding that DRW is a way of showing that food at high-quality restaurants is accessible for Dakar’s middle class. [Read more…]