The Africa Centre has a renewed vision to become the cultural kernel for the African diaspora in London and beyond. As part of this bold ambition, the charity is proud to announce the launch of a new Pan-African restaurant within its new headquarters. This exciting news comes at a time when African cuisine is at its most expansive globally. Tatale, led by Akwasi Brenya-Mensa, has been appointed as the Centre’s Food and Beverage (F&B) operator. The appointment followed a competitive and robust tender process which saw many interesting African F&B operators putting themselves forward.

The restaurant will be a meeting place for lovers of Africa in London, where food connects people to the continent and each other in a welcoming and open environment. It will be the beating heart of the Centre’s new home in Southwark.

The charity is currently refurbishing Gunpowder House, a 1960s former office block, into a new home for contemporary African culture and heritage in London. The development is supported by the Greater London Authority’s Good Growth Fund – awarded by the London Mayor’s office in 2018. Phase 1 of the development project will see the completion and fit-out of the basement, ground, first, and second floors. The restaurant will be on the ground floor, connecting to the bar on the first floor via a staircase. The second floor will house a dedicated exhibition and performance space. Phase 2, which involves fitting out the third and fourth floors, will be completed later.

Tatale at The Africa Centre will be open to visitors during the day and operate as a stand-alone restaurant and bar in the evenings. The richness and diversity of Africa and its global diaspora will be reflected in the menu, providing a taste of home to Africans visiting or living in London and giving everyone who loves Africa a chance to try a range of traditional African dishes. Planned events within the space include cooking classes, supper clubs, chef dinners, and other related activities. The partnership will provide opportunities to co-curate a range of authentic and innovative African cultural experiences. There have already been several successful collaborative projects between Tatale and The Africa Centre. These started during the lockdown and there are more planned over the coming months.

While at its previous location in Covent Garden in London, The Africa Centre was popular for its resident Calabash restaurant. The Calabash and the basement bar Soweto, were so pivotal in the interactions that happened that it was not uncommon for people to just say, “let’s meet at The Calabash”. The Africa Centre is determined to ensure that “Tatale at The Africa Centre” will soon become synonymous with exceptional culinary experiences in the Capital. Of course, Tatale will not seek to replicate The Calabash, but rather explore the novel and inspiring fusions and narratives being established by contemporary African cuisine.

Led by Ghanaian-British restauranteur Akwasi Brenya-Mensa, Tatale will offer a similar flavour of ‘home’, but it will be looking to chart its own path in the vanguard of a new movement that will turn traditional African ingredients and dishes into contemporary cuisine.

The original dish, tatale, after which the restaurant is named, is a traditional plantain pancake. It references an ingredient that is ubiquitous across African cuisine in all communities from Cape to Cuba, and from the West Indies and North America to Europe.

“For me, plantain is inextricably linked with the Black experience. It is an ingredient that is found in all African food and even in the diaspora,” explains Brenya-Mensa.

Brenya-Mensa hopes that Tatale will offer nostalgia and pride through food to Africans, as well as inspire curiosity with interesting pan-African dishes.

“Tatale embodies the same spirit of a cherished Chop Bar,” explains Brenya-Mensa. “Looking beyond borders, our selection of pan-African dishes will ignite conversation, foster new friendships, and form part of a wider narrative of cultural exchange”.

Tatale’s dishes will be inspired by flavours from all over the continent, drawing on traditions from all continental regions including the global diaspora.

Brenya-Mensa has worked within the food world for over 10 years as a restaurateur, caterer, and most recently, as host of the successful, ‘Mensa, Plates and Friends supper club. His professional journey has also leaned into the world of music through collaborative performances, DJ, events, and music management roles that have taken him across the globe. At The Africa Centre, Brenya-Mensa will showcase his versatility, drawing on his Ghanaian-British culture to bring an innovative contemporary spirit to the venue.

Chair of The Africa Centre Board of Trustees, Oba Nsugbe said: “We are thrilled to welcome Tatale to the Africa Centre and look forward to extending that welcome to all Africans and friends of Africa through the exciting cuisine that Tatale will prepare and share in our restaurant!”