Christian ABEGAN, the patriarch of African cuisine - CAMEROON CEO

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Who can pronounce their name without first wetting their lips? An imaginative cream melted in a daring pan. Christian Abegan is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the custodians of African gastronomic heritage. The menu of its success makes all the chefs on the planet green with envy. A relentless and disciplined worker, his breakfast is frightfully complex: a spoonful of originality; a glass of African flavors in a "diet" cup.

Beggar of perfection and greedy for exchange, this Cameroonian passionate about the table was chosen by fate to popularize African cuisine.

Trained at the Faculty of Law of Malakoff then at the hotel school of Montpellier before joining the famous Institut Le Cordon Bleu (school of culinary arts and hotel management) in Paris, this cooking-pot superstar who impresses with his great size was not helped by its immediate environment which, at the time, considered its determination to make of its strong passion for African recipes (considered too spicy and fatty) a profession, as a lack of ambition.

Son of a senior administrative official and a bank employee, this restaurant opening consultant did not find his happiness in the dreamlike store of his parents - who wanted him to be a lawyer - but in the pots of a certain "Ma'a Suzy" who managed to whet her appetite for the culinary arts. Instead of the courtrooms, he chose, against all odds, the refectories. A winning ticket since his phone number is listed in the phone book of most 5 forks restaurant owners around the world.

Distraught lover of culinary fusions, Christian Abegan, the colossus with the white beard who never separates from his necklaces placed around his neck, is proof by 25 million that the Cameroonian nation is full of many talents.

Born in Garoua - with a copper ladle in his hand - this eminent member of the Star Chef jury (a pan-African cooking show broadcast in more than twenty countries) strongly contributes to ensuring respect for African meals in the gastronomic world. A conveyor of flavors who in 30 years of experience serving African cuisine, has worked to promote the products of the continent. The most striking example of his victories is that of "Penja pepper". Through the persuasive efforts of this follower of good taste, the spice - the virtues of which were previously underestimated - is today used by the great kitchen masters and represented on tables all over the world.

His peers say that he is the best chef in French-speaking Africa, but this fifty-something (55 years old to be precise) - still in the kitchen - does not burden himself with these comments which could tickle his vanity, but prefers rather, write a book (African culinary heritage, published by Michel Lafon in 2017) to share with posterity, his rich and fascinating experience or even give some tips for making African flavors that deserve wide publicity.

With his acute fascination with aesthetics, his tireless plea for "sustainable agriculture", this dean of haute cuisine, little known as an event director - whose life is only punctuated by travels and especially the discovery of beautiful taste surprises -, was able to create a bridge between the expectations of his parents and his personal goals since he finally became: the advocate of African culinary art.

FT

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