Danuta Nganko, a Belgium-Congolese chef had plans to open a restaurant in Dakar before Covid ended that dream. Rather than give up, Nganko turned to chocolate, playing to her strength in technical cooking. As she put it:
Why not chocolate?’ … Because I really love technical types of cooking, I thought it was for me – Danuta Nganko
While other West African countries like Côte d’Ivoire or Ghana have a rich chocolate culture, Senegal had no gourmet chocolate, so Nganko opened ‘Venko’, a shop which is named after her childhood bakery which her parents ran.
Like many chocolatiers, Nganko looked to local ingredients for inspiration to create something unique. Her chocolate is known for infusing ingredients such as Moringa, a superfood, and hibiscus flower or bissap.
The idea is to take a very classical chocolate and work it with local flavours – Danuta Nganko
Her hope is that she can educate the Sengalese people to enjoy chocolate as a regular day-to-day item they keep in the fridge. She feels they will get there, but currently, most of her trade is in catering for special events