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CULTURE

Chef Cheikh Ndiaye

TERANGA CHEF

It’s just right for me to be able to bless someone else.


It was my pleasure to interview Chef Cheikh Ndiaye for this edition of Gary Jonathan.

Chef Cheikh is from Dakar, Senegal and has been working and serving in the Atlanta area for the past 11 years. He came to the United States in 1998. He started studies in New York City that were sponsored by his late uncle. His uncle passed away after his first semester. After that, he started working in different restaurants around the city. He worked his way up the chain, serving as a bus boy to eventually becoming a restaurant manager. His background is in restaurants, private clubs, and luxury boutique resorts.

After working in New York City, he realized that he had to get out of a city that he loved, invest in something that he loved and embark upon a greater experience.

He ventured to South Carolina, where things were less expensive and according to Chef Cheikh, “Hospitality is at its best.” He started working for a private club, Secession Golf Club, in the city of Beaufort. The club had two members that died during 9/11 and friends started a fund in memoriam. While working there, Chef Cheikh was fortunate enough to get a LeVeen-Roach $25,000 undergraduate scholarship to continue his education in hotel management at the University of South Carolina.

Today, Chef Cheikh is organizing an alumni association to give back to the club’s scholarship fund and the city of Beaufort.

At the completion of his studies, he started working for Auberge Resorts’ southern escape, Palmetto Bluff.

After working in South Carolina, Chef Cheikh Ndiaye moved to Atlanta where he began to flourish even more in the area of food and service. He has been on an upward journey of success.

Chef Cheikh has always been around food and different types of cuisine. Back in his native country of Senegal, boys were not allowed in the kitchen, so it was very difficult for him to get to know a lot about food and how to prepare it. Chef Cheikh says, “It was very difficult to get to learn how to cook. You certainly get inspired by seeing your mom or sisters cooking, as they would cook all day long. Everything was fresh from the market every day.” It wasn’t until he moved to the States where he found more freedom in the kitchen to experiment with food and cooking. Later in his career, he made great international chef friends and they served as inspiration for him to learn more about different foods and cultures.

“Teranga” is the Wolof (Senegalese dialect), a term for hospitality as a lifestyle.”

Chef Cheikh currently owns and operates Teranga Without Borders, a food catering service and private chef services in Atlanta, Georgia. When asked what the concept of your business is, he says, “The concept behind Teranga Catering Without Borders is a simple concept. Teranga stands for hospitality; not just the commercial hospitality of customer service or tourism. It is more of the moral values, respect and, tolerance, and comradery for one another. Teranga is a lifestyle more than anything else. It is a way of living; an expectation. Catering without borders came from the mindset of having a fusion experience.” While in Senegal, the Land of Teranga, Chef Cheikh says, “I learned that food should not have any borders. Senegalese food draws influence from Middle Eastern, French, and Portuguese cuisine. Senegal could be the birthplace of such southern foods like gumbo, jambalaya, and okra stew, just to name a few.

Chef Cheikh is inspired by excellence and the satisfaction of knowing that his clients are truly happy with the customization, sourcing, preparation and service of this food. One of his other inspirations is his Vietnamese maternal grandmother. She would prepare Vietnamese cuisine. In fact, when his grandmother moved from Vietnam to Senegal, she opened one of the first Vietnamese eateries there.

Chef Cheikh has a strong passion for community and service. He has done tremendous work with several community organizations where he gives back. According to him, “It’s just right for me to be able to bless someone else. As I grow, giving becomes second nature.”

He specializes in working with seniors and the youth. He does healthy cooking demos and tasting throughout the city of Atlanta, mostly in collaboration with Goodr, an Atlanta sustainable food waste management company.

Chef Cheikh is a passionate chef and a great humanitarian, with a keen sense of service and purpose. I have no doubt that great things will continue to happen for this great man and his catering service, Teranga Catering Without Borders.

Photo credit: John E. McDonald. Johnemcdonald.com

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