Africa Food Paradise is a Television Reality Show that showcases and promotes restaurants in West Africa by visiting the restaurant, describing the menu, recipe and ingredients used for the item on the menu.
The show host, Chef Wassana Ogbonna, a Thai national, is married to a Ghana- based Nigerian, whose love for food and adventure made her leave Bangkok to Accra to explore different options to choose from while deciding on what and where to eat.
This came to mind because of her experience when she first visited Africa: There was no direction to where one could find what one wanted to eat. So, she started the show to help other travelers like herself and even those planning to visit Africa find any kind of food they wanted. This show showcases all classes of restaurants and airs weekly and seasonally on V Nations TV (VNTV) (www.vnationtv.com), Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Instagram Live and all other social media.
Speaking with the publisher of Pleasures Magazine, Ola Babatunde in Accra, Wassana reveals what led her into becoming a chef, says she misses her home food, and prefers African way of life to the Thai’s.
You are a national of Thailand, what are you doing in Ghana of Africa?
Yes, I am a Thai, but my husband is from Nigeria. We got married in Thailand when my husband was living in my country, but after some time, my husband said we should visit Africa. He often talked very positively about Africa, which was contrary to what we see on the televisions over there. So, I decided to give it a try. We visited Ghana once while we were still living in my country, and I saw that Africa is a very beautiful place with beautiful and nice people. I like Africans’ communal way of life more than our own individualistic way of living in Thailand. That is why we relocated to Africa, living here in Accra, Ghana.
We hear about African Food Paradise and see things about it online, what is it all about?
Africa Food Paradise is a Television Reality Show that showcases and promotes restaurants in West Africa by visiting the restaurant, describing the menu, recipe and ingredients used for the menu item. I have been here in Ghana for some time now, and I miss my home food a lot because it is not easy to find it around, which was one of the challenges I faced when I first visited Africa. So, I decided to start this initiative to help travelers like myself to know where to find what they want and locals who want to dine out can also rely on my show to know where to go and find what they want. So, African Food Paradise is a food initiative where we take people around Africa to show them what restaurants in Africa have for them and we showcase all classes of restaurants no matter the type of cuisine, African. European, Asian, American, etc.
You showcase all classes of restaurants with any kind of cuisine, why then do you choose to call the initiative ‘African Food Paradise’?
It is true that I showcase all kinds of restaurants and cuisine, but I choose to call it ‘African Food Paradise’ because although I’m a foreigner, I live in Africa now and I want to show people how good African restaurants are. Most times people feel bored with the food they cook at home or may not feel like cooking at home on a certain day and would like to eat out.
How do you intend to go about your food initiative?
We go to some good restaurants around, talk about what they have and how to locate them, then pick their special recipe and go to the kitchen with their chef to show you the viewers how to prepare it.
Who are your targets in African Food Paradise?
My target is anybody in Africa who likes food adventure, most especially travelers visiting Africa or planning to visit Africa for the first time either for tourism or business because we are going to show them what they don’t know exist here in Africa and they will be amazed. Of course, even those who don’t have interest for food will be entertained too because we’re making the show to be so entertaining.
Why did you choose food business, why not fashion or some other businesses that women like to do more?
Yes, I know that most women like fashion a lot, but I choose to do food business I have passion for it. Moreover, I am a kind of person that, when angry or bored, would like to eat food, and when I eat food, I feel better. So, I like food. That is why I am a chef, doing food business.
As a chef, what kind of food do you cook?
Professionally, I am a Thai food chef, that is what I studied in school but honestly speaking I am not as good in making Thai food as I am in making African food. That is because my husband taught me how to make African food very well, especially Nigerian food.
Talking about Thai food, what makes Thai food special or spectacular?
There are some special ingredients that we use to spice our foods in Thailand, which are not commonly found in Africa. Those ingredients have nutritional benefits that help you maintain good health. The way Thai foods are made also differ from the way Africans make their foods. These are what make the differences between Thai foods and African foods.
You left your home country of Thailand to live with your husband in Africa; were you not scared when your husband requested that you should relocate to Africa?
I never thought that I would one day come to live in Africa. But my husband is an open-minded man. He told me at some point into our young marriage that we should travel to Africa, so I could see that Africa is a place much more than what the media shows to us on TV and online. So, we travelled to Africa and I saw that Africa is indeed, a beautiful place with very wonderful people. Therefore, I am not scared living here with my husband. I feel well secured here. Although some of my family members back home used to be concerned when they see some of the terrible things the media report about Africa, especially during that period of Ebola outbreak, and they call me and say, ‘are you not afraid?’ “How do you feed, and all that, the truth is, I am fine here with my husband. Africans are wonderful people. I love their communal lifestyle a lot, and I prefer it now to the way we live in Thailand.
You just said that you prefer African lifestyle to the Thai’s” Should you travel to your home country or any other foreign country and hear people talk about Africa in a negative way, what will you tell them?
I will tell them that the reason they are talking about Africa that way is that they don’t really know about Africa and its people. I will tell them that Africa is a far better place than what the media tell us about them. In fact, I will tell them so many good things about Africa that they would like to come and visit to see for themselves.
What should your potential Sponsors and followers out there look forward to from African Food Paradise initiative?
They should expect surprises. I think they will really be surprised that not only do I eat African food though a foreigner, but also, I can make them very well. So, they should expect surprises.
Finally, where can people watch it?
This show airs weekly and seasonally on V Nations TV (VNTV) (www.vnationtv.com), Facebook Live,
YouTube Live, Instagram Live and all other social media with the name African Food Paradise. They can
also watch it on our website; www.africanfoodparadise.com. We don’t want people having to stay back home in order to catch the show, so we’re bringing it anywhere you are and, we want people to be able to watch it repeatedly if they want to. This is also to make it easy for people coming from other countries to easily find us online. If you want me to come and show your restaurant to the world or you want to sponsor the show and for any other inquiries, anyone can reach us on +233 20 218 2187 or firstname.lastname@example.org