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Q&A With Bay Area's Soleil’s African Cuisine

Interview with chef Soleil Banguid and his wife TJ about their new venue The Frog and Fiddle in neighboring Alameda.

When did you start at The Frog and Fiddle? We started last December on the 7th.

How did you get connected with The Frog and Fiddle? We used to do the on Tuesdays. At that time, we became friends with Miguel and Monica at . A while after we stopped doing the Farmers Market, we bumped into them and we met Peter [Barnato] and Chuck [Carlise], who run the bar here. It was a good match.

You describe your cuisine as “Pan African.” What does that mean?
Soleil: Our dishes come from north and south, east and west — from Morocco to South Africa. We cannot offer every dish on the menu. But if there is a dish you want — say you are from Ghana and you want a particular Ghanaian dish — just call ahead -- give me half an hour and I can make it for you.

How did you learn to cook in so many regional styles? Soleil: When I was in university in the Congo [French Congo], I had classmates from all over Africa. We would cook together and I got interested in what they were making and would try until they tasted and said, “Yes, that’s right!”

Were you studying cooking at university? No, I learned cooking at Mom School! I was studying accounting.

What do you recommend to those who are unfamiliar with African dishes? TJ: I usually recommend the Tanzanian fish [pan-fried tilapia with rice and plantains] or the Kuku-Paka  [a Kenyan chicken dish with coconut sauce and spinach]. For vegans, the Rwandan Two Beans is good. Soleil: The Peanut Stew is one of my favorites.

What do you do when you are not here at The Frog and Fiddle? TJ: We cater and we also offer cooking classes.

Soleil can be found at The Frog and Fiddle Wednesdays–Sundays, 4-9 p.m. The Frog and Fiddle is located at 1544 Webster Street. Telephone: 510-522-3764. Click here for the menu.

To reach Soleil and TJ for catering and cooking classes, call 510-228-6747.

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