Rising Star Chef Pierre Thiam of Pierre Thiam Catering - Biography

New York, NY

September 2017

Raised in the bustling metropolis of Dakar, Pierre Thiam has become a cultural ambassador for the rich culinary history of Senegal. He was pursuing a degree in physics and chemistry when a countrywide strike led him stateside to Ohio. During a stopover in New York, Thiam found work in a West Village restaurant and quickly became enamored the hospitality life.

Starting as a busboy, Thiam climbed the culinary ladder to chef de cuisine at Boom and Two Rooms, acquainting diners with African-inspired tasting menus. In 2001, he opened his first restaurant Yolele––a visionary African bistro in Brooklyn––followed by Le Grand Dakar three years later, which became a culinary and cultural locus. Now touted as “The King of New African Cuisine,” Thiam is currently executive chef of Nok by Alara, reinventing African classics in Lagos, Nigeria. With ties still in New York, his catering company Pierre Thiam Catering uses contemporary interpretations of the flavors of Africa as well as its diaspora.

More than a chef and restaurateur, Thiam is a leading advocate for solutions to end world hunger and a spokesperson for responsible tourism. He’s also authored two cookbooks: Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal (a finalist for the IACP Julia Child Cookbook Award) and the James Beard nominated SENEGAL: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl.