-That's the flyest chef jacket I've ever seen.
Ever, ever, ever.
You shut it down.
Houston -- where West Africa meets America.
-I'm trying to posit a message with the food.
"Don't forget where you come from."
-Now it's cool to be African.
-There's a big Wakanda movement.
-Where was Wakanda when I grew up in Sweden, by the way?
Where was that?
Where was that?
-Yeah, I've lived in different parts of the world, and I always have to go out of my way to get the food that I grew up on.
-The beauty about West African cuisine is it's not subtle.
-Nigerians love spicy food.
-Suya spice, which you'll see on the streets of West Africa.
-Suya, suya, suya, suya everything.
-This, for me -- This is my favorite dish.
-It's like the best of Houston.
-It might be unfamiliar to you, but this is the foundation of soul food.
Tell me about this suya Hennessey chicken you've got.
Those are, like, some of the best things in life.
And food gives us these reference points that can actually start a new dialogue, build a new bridge, reclaim... -Yes.
-...and own being Nigerian in America.
-It's about contemporary renditions of West African cuisine and just trying to make it our own.
-This dish -- I really feel African.
-That's what we're shooting for.
-This is flavor that we've been waiting for, like, legit.
-The truth is gonna come out.
This is good.
-This is us.
We have arrived.
-We have arrived.
-This is the perfect example of telling incredible food stories.
♪♪ I'm Chef Marcus Samuelsson, and as an immigrant born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, food, to me, has always told a deeper, more personal story.
♪♪ It's a path to culture, identity, and history.
[ People cheering ] Join me on a new journey across the country to learn more about America's immigrant communities and culinary traditions to see how food connects us all.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Houston.
♪♪ It's wide.
♪♪ We know that amazing music comes from Houston, like, from jazz to hip-hop to, of course, Solange and B's music.
It's also the number-one most diverse city in the country, and that has a huge impact on its food.
There's a big Vietnamese community.
Indian, Mexican, barbecue, Middle Eastern.
But also West African.
♪♪ You have some Senegalese, some Ghana, even Liberia, but it's heavily dominated by the Nigerian community.
♪♪ So, Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa.
It was colonized by the British until 1960, and after it gained independence, there were tribal and political conflicts that led to one of the bloodiest civil wars in Africa.
In the 1980s, they had years of economic turbulence, and you start to see the first big wave of Nigerians leaving for America.
The Nigerian community in Houston grew to become one of the largest communities outside Nigeria, but its food has yet to hit the mainstream.
This is nice!
-Yes, it is.
-I see the Scotch bonnet.
I see my habanero.
-You know how they just love spicy food.
-The red ones are usually the mild one.
-It's the orange that we use.
-The orange that gets you.
-Michelle Kavachi is a Nigerian-American chef.
She also found "The Art of Fufu," which mission is really to educate about West African cuisine.
This stuff -- When you go to a West African market, this is what takes over the smell of the whole market.
That flavor that gives us that uniqueness is our preserved fish.
-And stockfish and smoked fish is a huge part of our cooking.
This is what people can tell you, like, "Whoa."
-We have arrived.
[ Laughter ] -This is what smells, right?
-I love it, though.
-So this is why it's in the freezer.
-One of the number-one appetizers from Nigeria is goat head.
They put it in a nice roux, and they cut this up.
And I kid you not, it's delicious.
I always tell people, "Don't knock it till you try it."
The beauty about West African cuisine is that it hasn't really been touched.
It's still very authentic.
It's not subtle.
Just all this strong fragrance and flavors... sort of in your face.
But as you start to understand them, they're incredibly delicious.
The other ingredients here I'm pretty familiar with.
Here's where I get lost.
-And as a chef, it's always exciting when you can learn something, right?
So, this is mostly for stews and soup.
-This is the draw soups.
One of the go-tos in a lot of Nigerian cooking.
-What do you mean with "draw"?
-Do you know how okra has that -- -Oh, from the slime from the okra -- It's really the texture of that, right?
So, this ogbono is soup that we call a draw soup.
-It's a little thicker.
I did not know that soup was such a big part of Nigerian cooking.
The soups all come with a tribe.
-That's how they know where you're from.
-So the Fulani would have one soup.
-And the Igbo would have one.
-But have you ever had peanut soup?
-Oh, my gosh.
-But that, for the record -- That is from Ghana, so do not take that.
-No, no, no, no, no.
-That is not from Nigeria.
That is from Ghana.
-I just want to make that very clear.
-Tribal food is something, as Americans, we think we're not familiar with, but it's no different than regional cuisine of, let's say, Texas or New England.
You have Southern food.
You have Creole, which we have learned to appreciate and understand, right?
This is the same concept.
We're hungry 'cause we're talking about Nigerian food, what is Nigerian food, right?
Before talking to you about it, would you like to taste it?
-Please come with me.
-This is my kitchen.
-I love it.
-So, first, I want to show you, this is our authentic Nigerian jollof rice.
-I'm telling you, it doesn't get any better than this.
-Mm, that's a big pot.
-Jollof rice -- it's almost like noodles in Southeast Asia, but you find a version of it all over West Africa.
The key ingredients is rice, tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
Jollof rice, when I taste this -- This is like the base for so many rice, right?
Jambalaya you find, obviously, in New Orleans and all throughout the Bayou.
Also, Spanish paella.
Very similar, right?
-Jollof rice is the rice that every variations from West Africa, from the Caribbean, from all over, like -- You can tell that it's migrated in different regions with its own twist.
Store looks good, man.
How does this -- Honestly, how does this make you feel, though?
This is -- This is really a sense of variety, right?
-Just the idea of being at Wazobia is just -- It means so much to me because I can truly remember when I was small and to feel like we were different.
You -- Your clothing was different.
Your culture was different.
You kind of never fitted in, right?
-Everything was just so different for us.
And I remember when it was International Day at school, when my teacher said that, "This is everyone's opportunity to bring a dish from your country."
-What did you bring?
-My mom actually made stew with white rice.
I was so happy.
I was like, "Finally, you understand where I'm from.
You understand my food.
You understand everything about me."
My teacher gave me back my dish and told me, "Tell your mom thank you, but we didn't know what it was."
-So... -They didn't -- They didn't give it out to the kids?
And I -- And that little third-grade me was like, "But you never asked me what it was."
-But this was back in the '90s, you know?
So we were just that little, small, international aisle.
-Now we're Wazobia.
-This is us.
We have arrived.
-We have arrived.
♪♪ -So, when you are in Africa, most Africans think of themselves as black, But it's not something that you are conscious of as a daily reality.
But when you get here, you come into culture where there is black and white divisions.
There is a kind of mental disorientation that follows that.
And so, in that kind of situation, you want to control your realities.
You want to deflect the indignities of racism, and you also want to assert yourself.
Like Nigerians, for instance, are a very proud people.
What they did was to form a very strong and tight community because that's how we protect ourselves.
We started creating a Nigerian universe within the Houston community.
♪♪ [ Whistle blows, percussion playing ] ♪♪ -Chef Kavachi -- she's a force.
And I know where she got it from because she's about to introduce me to her mother, Safari.
Safari is really ground zero for the Nigerian community in Houston.
That's in the heart of Bissonnett Street in the southwest.
She started this business 30 years ago by selling Nigerian food out of her car, MC Hammer style.
The minute you enter, you open that door to Safari, you're no longer in Houston.
You're in Lagos.
♪♪ I love this restaurant.
How big was the Nigerian community before you opened?
-Then it was not much.
-But, right now, it's very, very big.
But in the '80s, few.
-So this was one of the first Nigerian restaurants in Houston, right?
-So you grew up here?
-Yes, I grew up in this kitchen.
-You grew up in this -- So you've done every position.
-You've done dishes.
-Was she any good in the kitchen?
-I have a lot of kids.
Everybody's doing one thing or the other.
-So you have a lot of kids.
That means you have a lot of staff.
-I want to see -- I want to see the kitchen.
-I want to see the kitchen.
-Welcome to our kitchen.
♪♪ -Safari is a tribe leader, right here in Houston.
And what tribe are you?
-We're the Igbos from the eastern parts.
And you are also a tribe leader here.
There's not a lot of women that are chiefs.
-Well... -No, I -- -I'm triple chief.
She's somebody that's kept all this African tradition with them.
Today, she's teaching me how to make traditional fufu.
You know, in Ethiopia, we don't eat fufu.
It's all the injera bread, but fufu is to Nigerians what injera bread is to Ethiopians, right?
And what is fufu?
-Fufu is made out of yam.
This is big.
-I import it from Nigeria.
-So we're gonna peel it?
-After that, we'll boil it.
Step one in the fufu plan.
-Are you ready?
-You know, let's see if this little Ethiopian boy can hang with a Nigerian.
-Are your arms feeling a little bit tired now?
You have no... [ Laughter ] -The sound of Safari pounding fufu is very familiar to me.
You find it all over Africa -- pounding either corn, sometimes spices.
It's almost like a drum beat.
[ Knocking ] So, I'm watching Safari making this soft fufu, but I realize why she has to make it so smooth.
Because there's something called swallow in Nigerian tradition that kind of defines -- Are you in?
Do you understand the culture?
Do you respect the culture?
So, the fufu comes wrapped in a plastic Saran wrap.
Right next to that, you get a stew that is okra, goat, whole fish -- bones and everything.
I love the sliminess of this texture, right?
You pick up your fufu -- a little bit bigger than a ping-pong ball -- and then you scoop up this stew, and you swallow.
Again, do not chew it.
And, of course, I'm chewing it 'cause there's big bones in the stew!
-Did you swallow?
What do you think, Safari, for the future?
What do you hope for the Nigerian community?
You built it.
You now created this platform for the kids.
-They are taking it to a different level.
Like me, I'm getting old.
But my daughter now, her friends -- they're into everything.
-We're just, "Money, money.
We want money, money, money, money."
But they want to take it to a different level.
-They want to build a rock like a name that they will stand upon, you understand me?
-So I'm so happy.
-Isn't it amazing that your mom was actually a part of building that community?
You're walking in to, like, a set table.
-How does that make you feel?
-I won't say "pressure" because when you've seen so much through her -- through my mom's eyes and seeing the community grow.
Back then, it was hard for us because we didn't really know ourselves within this American culture, but now, it's like, "No.
We are the culture."
Now I see why you've been so successful over the last 30 years.
You've really created a place for the community.
-I appreciate it.
♪♪ -Chef Michelle is going to take me to one of the most iconic dishes in Nigerian cuisine -- suya.
It is kind of this chicken skewer or beef skewer with this incredible peanut sauce that has a little bit of heat.
So, it's Auntie Patricia that is the boss and Amahdu that is a childhood friend to Michelle Kavachi.
So, Auntie, tell me about suya.
Where does suya come from in Nigeria?
-Uh, originally from the Northern Nigeria.
-A lot of Nigeria is a Christian country, but the northern part is Muslim.
That's where Abuja is the capital.
And now in the Hausa region, the Hausa tribe, and that's where suya comes from.
And who taught you how to make suya?
-Nobody taught me.
In the north, any cooking done by women, but when it comes to the suya, the suya is done by men.
-I didn't know that.
-What is the spice rub that you put on top of suya?
-What is kuli-kuli?
-Uh, I don't know how to explain it in English, but that is the -- -That is the secret!
I love it!
She's like, "I don't know."
Ah, she's very smart.
-[ Laughs ] -Here.
This is what I'm talking about.
Here is the secret sauce.
Here it is.
Where are you going?
[ Laughter ] -So, now you... -Whoa, whoa, whoa.
What do we have in here?
-That is, um -- I -- I can't explain it, okay?
[ Laughter ] It's all -- You just take this.
Then use red paint.
We're gonna call it "red paint."
-Yes, we call it "red paint."
It smells too good to be "red paint," though.
[ Laughs ] -And then we put it on the grill?
-Yeah, we put it on the grill when it's ready.
It smells good.
-Like all African countries, Nigeria is many different tribes with many different opinions.
-But a dish like suya brings all Nigerians together.
-This is the general food that combine the country together -- suya.
Everybody eat this here.
-And you see your boys.
I'm with them every day.
♪♪ -This looks great.
I want to try a chicken one.
So, what is the tomato and onion for?
-The tomato and onions take away the spice because, you know, some people don't eat spicy food.
-So, like, mine is mild here.
-So, Amahdu doesn't eat spicy food.
-What do you mean?
He's not Nigerian?
-No, he is.
[ Laughter ] -So, did you grow up here or you grew up in Nigeria?
-No, I was born in Nigeria.
-And then I came here when I was about 14.
-And what about you?
-I was 18.
-How can it be -- He was 18, you were 16.
You kept your pidgin English, but he's, like, got the Southern English going on.
-It's because when I was a kid, I watched a lot of cartoons.
I was prepping for America.
-You were prepping at home?
-No, pidgin is something you got to hold onto.
That is its own thing.
-I mean, I love that language.
-To be honest, I don't want to -- I don't want to lose my -- my language.
It was introduced in America by Hakeem Olajuwon.
-And we're keeping it.
You can't be in Houston and don't bring up Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the first mainstream athletes that broke from Africa into American culture.
He didn't shy away from being African.
He didn't shy away from being a Muslim.
He really is like, "I'm gonna own this, and I'm gonna bring people with me on this journey."
-Yes, and Olajuwon, he changed, like, African culture, like... -Yeah.
In what way?
-'Cause he was proud of being Nigerian.
-He motivate more people to even come -- to move to Houston.
That's why they give him a statue.
-You know, there's obviously African-American, and then there's people like us that are African and American.
-That tiny little "and" can be beautiful because that's a culture window into differences.
-It's gifts on both ends.
-It's a blessing.
-You know what?
This is the best suya in Houston.
This is so good, and I've made a mess.
Thank you so much.
It was fantastic.
-Thank you for coming.
-And thank you for showing us.
-I appreciate you.
-And I got to say, that's the flyest chef jacket I've ever seen, ever, ever, ever.
You shut it down.
-My mama's the chef.
I'm the grill master.
But that's the flyest grill jacket ever.
Just like that, you know.
♪♪ -We are James and Jolly Onobun, the owners of Jolly Jolly Bakery right here in Houston, Texas.
We are both from Nigeria, came to Houston in 1981.
We've been in this location eight years.
Nigeria is a big bread culture.
-We can eat it with beans.
-Bread and stew.
-Bread and coke and peanuts.
They've got some good bread in Nigeria, but not on the level of Jolly Jolly.
You are looking for the softness, kind of like your pillow you lay on.
-[ Inhales deeply ] Mmm!
-When we started thinking about this bakery, I was looking for a name, and I said, "My wife's name is Jolly.
Jolly means happiness."
So that's how it came about.
Just double Jolly.
[ Laughs ] Our main business here is really bread, but we make other stuff also, such as Scotch egg.
The Scotch egg, yeah.
-And we also took the Guinness beer.
And Nigerians drink the most Guinness in the world.
♪♪ My customer base -- you have Cameroonians, you have Nigerians, you have Guineans, you have people from South Africa, Botswana.
I mean, Kenya.
-They all come out here.
-...come out here for Jolly Jolly bread.
-The bread is our bread and butter.
I have three wonderful sons.
I would love for them to be a part of Jolly Jolly.
My father left me nothing.
I want to leave them with something.
-This is for them.
-This is for them, yes.
♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Hey.
-How are you?
-Nice to meet you, sir.
-So, Ayo and Tiffaney is this amazing couple.
They started their restaurant in Southwest Houston about three years ago called Abuja.
Now the second venture's called Taste Of Nigeria.
It's not in the traditional southwest part of Houston where most of the West African community is.
It's actually in the Galleria part of town, which kind of opened the door for a whole other audience.
The other interesting thing is kind of why they're at the Taste Of Nigeria, because they have cooks from Togo, Cameroon, Angola, Senegal.
It's really aspirational to bring all of West Africa together.
You guys are from Senegal, right?
-I'm a Wolof.
-We're both Wolof.
That's where the jollof rice come from.
All over West Africa, people have rivalries.
Where is the best jollof rice from?
Nigerians are claiming it, people from Ivory Coast, people from Ghana, but it started from the Wolof people from Senegal.
These Senegalese sisters -- they're gonna show me a dish that is so important.
It's called ceebu jen.
"Ceebu" is fish.
"Jen" is rice.
But we're gonna do another iconic Senegalese dish actually called chipu jen.
[ Speaking foreign language ] -Red ceebu jen.
-Red ceebu jen.
Let's do it.
Can I add in in the Scotch bonnet?
-And they don't play.
Yellow is the strongest, and we're putting four in, so you know.
Adama has all the skills to be an amazing chef.
And you know what?
She's gonna let you know when you're wrong.
-I'm taking the onion out.
-If you drop the onion too early, take it out.
If you are chopping it the wrong way, she will let you know.
-You add this one.
-And now we're adding the cabbage.
-No, no, no.
-Should we marinate the fish now?
-No, no, no, no, no.
-She's no joke.
-And that's what I love about cooking, right?
This is her dish.
It should matter.
If I come in there and mess it up, she's gonna hold me accountable.
I love Adama.
We know that -- We ate in Nigerian restaurants.
What about Senegalese?
-There are no Senegalese restaurant.
We used to have one, but it closed.
-So this might be the goal, one day, to have Senegalese restaurants.
-I know who's gonna be the chef of the Senegalese restaurants.
The boss over here.
-Oh, thank you.
This is the famous ceebu jen.
It looks amazing.
Smells so good.
It's nice to see Senegal and Nigeria working together.
-Thank you so much.
-I think it's beautiful.
-Yeah, it's very good.
-I've had ceebu jen in Dakar.
-This tastes even better.
-It is taste of Nigeria, but it's really taste of West African, right?
When does the decision making come in to, like, say, "What about Senegal?
What about Cameroon?"
How did that come about?
-We wanted to include other communities that were not being properly represented because a lot of them are smaller so they may not have the need to open up a restaurant.
So because the Nigerian community is so big, they can feel, you know, like, "Hey, we're part of this growth."
-And, also, we have a lot of second-generation Nigerians born and bred here in America that grew up with the food.
-But they're professionals -- nurses and doctors and lawyers.
They want to have it in an American standard way.
-This is our pepper soup.
-That's the catfish pepper soup.
-Catfish pepper soup.
We send the whole fish.
-And then that's goat pepper soup.
The pepper soup is amazing.
It's very delicious.
-Because it has this umami flavor, this fish flavor.
-You mix into the fish stock.
-The scent leaves.
-And meat stock, right?
-So you're tasting both?
-That is such a killer broth.
-It almost reminds me almost like a Japanese ramen, in a way.
It's very much on a different tip, you know.
-But once I learned how to appreciate it, it's fantastic, right?
-People who enter the Southwest, they know, "I'm now entering the Nigerian community."
-Being in this part of town gives access to a whole nother... -Exactly.
-Now with this new location, we're also pulling in people that are not Nigerian that are curious about the cuisine, that may have never gone to Africa.
But we can bring Africa to them.
-In an authentic way.
-And do you know where your ancestors are from?
But, you know, I'm curious.
-Well, chances are -- From Ghana, Nigeria.
-Somewhere on the west coast, possibly, yeah.
-And we've had people come to the restaurant that had taken the test, the DNA test, and found out, "Hey, I'm Igbo," or, "I'm a large percentage Yoruba.
What kind of food do they eat?"
So that was really -- -They wanted food.
Exciting to us.
-Yeah, we were excited about that because we wanted to educate them on the food.
You guys should be really proud.
You're putting the flag up, and you are bringing both communities together -- the American side and the African side.
-So congrats to that.
♪♪ -What's fascinating when you start looking under the hood of West African food -- it might be unfamiliar to you.
♪♪ But this is a foundation of Southern food, soul food, the cuisine that we love in America, right?
It's all here.
It all started in West Africa and came to America through the slave trade.
When we think about slavery in America, predominately slaves came from West Africa.
So West Africans brought their food ways and tradition across the Atlantic, and then infusing that with things that we're growing here, with scraps left over.
They really had to become innovators, and that's where your jollof becomes jambalaya.
Fufu eventually becomes grits.
So many of these traditions that we love really started there.
♪♪ Here's the real farmer.
♪♪ The sage looks great.
-And in here, we have chard.
-...that everybody sees in the grocery stores.
-This is the spiral mint.
Just rub it and then you smell your hands, okay?
-We have broccoli over here.
-So, Aretha and her mother, Elizabeth -- they were farmers back in Liberia.
♪♪ -[ Laughs ] Would you like some more?
-Hey, that was my finger.
That was my finger.
Liberia has this very unique history among all African countries.
It was created and established by former African-American slaves that resettled into Liberia in the 19th century and then started to build the nation.
So you see things like collards, okra.
You see things that you constantly see in America in the South back to Liberia.
It's almost like a tennis match going back and forth between food and culture.
I love the fact that you have collard greens like -- so it's like culturally referenced.
And did you grow up with collard greens back in Liberia, as well?
-Well, and we did cook a lot of okra, too.
You know, in Nigeria, food is all about better greens and all of those things.
Is Liberia also a lot of soups and greens?
-Yeah, a lot of greens here in Liberia.
-Cassava leaf, a lot of rice.
-It come with greens.
-Aretha's picking all the big ones.
She's not playing fair.
-What was your favorite dish from your mom?
-It's leaves that, when you cook it, it's slippery like okra.
-But it's not.
-I cook some.
-And I have it here.
-Can I taste?
I love it!
I love when I can taste something I've never tried before.
-[ Laughs ] ♪♪ -So you brought this yourself?
-It does have that okra -- It's somewhere between spinach and okra.
-This is very good.
-I've never had this green before.
You know, like, you think about soul food and Liberian food.
West Africa's very similar.
Well, I love your lunch.
The farm is nice.
It's really, really good.
♪♪ -So, Aretha and Elizabeth -- they sell their produce in the local market space, both to people who love to go to the farmers' market but also to chefs in the Houston restaurant scene.
♪♪ is Chef Jonathan Rhodes.
We're in Northeast Houston right now, which is the location for Restaurant Indigo, where we focus on the history of soul food.
♪♪ If you're gonna have soul food authentically, you have to have it from an authentic area because soul food isn't made from rich ingredients.
It's made from leftovers and things that are kind of passed down or overlooked.
There's definitely West African in everything that we do.
One was derived from the other.
African-Americans are the innovative version of the traditional West African.
♪♪ All these different West African foods carry the same spices, flavors, and ingredients as African-Americans.
So we just want to be able to showcase that history and that story.
-So you're from this area?
You grew up here?
-Yeah, I grew up less than half a mile away from me.
Every back street, every turn -- I know it all since I was a small child.
-When did you decide you wanted to become a chef?
-When I realized that everybody in my community was struggling to eat.
See, me as a kid, I always wanted steak and lobster and things.
-Well, I wanted those things 'cause I never had access to them.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
-So it made me -- It made me crave for them.
So, as I got older, I realized that it takes a little bit of ingenuity to cook some things that's not high-end.
So I realized that I needed to learn that.
-♪ Check out when I wreck out ♪ -I love this horseshoe bar.
This might be my favorite kitchen of all time.
Chef, what dish are you doing right now?
What are you doing?
-Ah, so this is a heritage pheasant.
-We dry-age it here.
Pound it out.
-Then we'll fill it with some jollof rice.
This jollof is made from caramelized tomato paste, a cayenne pepper paste from last year's harvest.
And there's fresh-roasted peppers in there, as well.
I smell it.
You got it down.
What made you think about this dish?
Because jollof -- you kind of have to know someone in the West African community, right?
-Well, for me as a kid, I spent a little time inside of -- inside of an orphanage.
I was adopted by some, uh, Nigerians who were originally from, uh, Igbo.
-I'm adopted, too.
-I spent a little bit of time living and working with them, and it allowed me to kind of connect the diaspora between African-Americans and Western Africans.
-Yes, and they're similar.
Jambalaya and jollof are very much the same.
And it didn't start with jambalaya.
It started with jollof first.
-It did not.
It started off with jollof.
Better get your twine ready, Chef.
Had to make sure I had your back on that.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
♪♪ -So, this dish that we're working on, this dish is tailored to descendants of Igbo.
As I told you earlier, I spent some time with an Igboan family as a child.
One of the things that I noticed that they ate a lot was yam.
-Which is something that you see in soul food a lot, is candy yams, which is, I think, a dish that was reminiscent of African slaves missing home, right?
You have the yam, which is very much different from the sweet potato that you find here in America.
So you begin to see African slaves make candy yams in an effort to make their sweet potato taste more like a yam.
-So we preserved these candy yams back in 2015, and then emulsified them with their own sugar, and we serve it as a desert.
Here in the South, we got pecans.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-So what we're filling it with is a small pecan butter.
It was made from pecans that literally fall in our backyard.
-This is our crunchy granola.
When you have soul food or you have candy yams, you've got to have the marshmallows.
I'm gonna torch a little bit?
Nice, dark color.
Man, I thought you were playing "Call of Duty" for a second.
You had -- You were getting it in right there.
-We got that pheasant now.
♪♪ -And the way you want the gravy, just...?
-Pour it right over the top.
There we go.
Get saucy with it.
-I'm excited, man.
It looks good.
-I like the smell, the smokiness, you know?
That's my favorite part about the entire thing.
-This is delicious.
-We titled this dish "Cowboys and Indians" because Western Africa was filled with farmers and agriculturalists.
They were considered to be the original cowboys of Africa.
-And then you have rice, which is Carolina Gold Rice, which is one of the original grains brought to America from Africa.
Jonny Rhodes is so talented, but he also is a chef with a mission.
You get some culture, you get some history, and it's the perfect example of telling incredible food stories.
When I eat this dish, the links between the African-American and the Nigerian and West African community all comes together.
You know what I mean?
That's what we're shooting for.
-Oh, this is amazing, what you showed me -- the kitchen, the discipline, being in the neighborhood.
Ah, the food is amazing.
And congrats on your journey, man.
-Thank you, Chef.
There's many reasons why we lost track of the links between West African food and Southern food, but they're all connected to systemic racism.
You take slavery as the starting point to that where the labor had no authorship of the food that they were cooking and serving the masters.
To 300 or 400 years later, you come back to the situation where the reference points are gone.
And food gives us these reference points that could actually start a new dialogue, build a new bridge and help you understand it.
♪♪ Another touch point that connects the West African and the African-American community in Houston is music.
Wherever you go, you hear the very upbeat, iconic sound of Afrobeat.
♪♪ -Afrobeat was created by Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was a musician, a radical, an activist.
Afrobeat also inspired Afrobeats, now the one with the "S" because now you have younger generations who produce songs that are meant to appeal to a more universal audience, so they bring in all these cosmopolitan experience, and you see a lot of that in Houston.
-Um, so, I'm all about three H's, right?
Um, you know, giving awareness, exposure of African culture.
It's why I bring this class to you.
And I thought about how to fuse both my love for dance and food, which is why I connected with my good friend Crystal Obih, and that's why we brought together this beats-and-brunch event.
[ Cheers and applause ] -So, Peter and Crystal have really found this incredible space between tradition and modern.
They're living this fast, urban life.
Peter is a high-school principal, and Crystal is a medical doctor, but on the weekend, they focus on bringing people together around food, music, and dance.
I'm now about to make a big fool out of myself.
But you know what?
I'm gonna have fun doing it.
-First move is out, out.
Five, six, seven, go.
-Peter's specific dance moves comes out of the streets of Lagos.
Marcus, you are a pro!
-Every club from Lagos to Houston got some version of this.
-Now I'm gonna do a dance called -- Everybody say, "Shaku shaku."
-Shaku shaku's a big dance right now in Nigeria, and it's, like, going international.
-Shaku shaku and Zanku have become a phenomenon through YouTube, really, connecting people all over the world.
♪♪ -Five, six!
Five, six, seven, go!
♪♪ Look, look!
-It is a true expression from modern, young West African, whether they live in Houston or in Nigeria.
♪♪ -I'm sorry.
I'm sorry, man.
-That was great.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Let's go eat.
-The Afrobeat dance session is really a workout, right?
And then you go into this tasty brunch where it's really a balance between traditional West African flavors and modern African-American flavors.
So, I'm loving the food.
Tell me about this suya Hennessey chicken you got.
Those are, like, some of the best things in life, right?
You know, as Nigerians, we all love suya chicken.
Suya meat, suya beef.
Anything like that.
-So I was like, "What about interfusing this with Hennessey?"
A little Hennessey a little butter, a little cinnamon, a little more spices.
Before I knew it, my husband tasted it.
He was like, "Oh, my God.
This is..." -That's a big dish.
And the coconut rice.
So that is Nigerian?
It's a very authentic recipe.
And, of course, any kind of Nigerian fusion, you have to have some plantains.
[ Laughs ] -Both of you, but especially Peter, talked about dual culture between Nigeria and being here in Houston.
So how do you guys balance those two things?
-This beats and brunch is a way for us to not only celebrate who we are, but also reclaim and, like, own being African and being Nigerian in America.
-Um, before, we were ashamed of it, but now I'm proud of it.
-But I also want to share it with other Nigerian-Americans who also, again, struggle with being who they are.
I think that's what this is all about.
And that's one of the reasons why I started my food blog, Kegos Kitchen, because I wanted to put out there our recipes.
Like, hey, be proud.
Learn your authentic recipes -- your Egusi soup, your jollof, your stew, your fufu, everything.
-You got to claim it.
-And it's not until recently the lunchbox become cool, right?
But when you were growing up -- Now -- Like, now it's really cool.
But back then, the fufu and the okras, too, was not being swapped with somebody else.
Now it's cool to be African.
It's cool to wear African clothes.
There's this big Wakanda movement.
Everybody's wearing a dashiki now, but -- -Where was Wakanda when I grew up in Sweden, by the way?
I missed -- I missed that!
So I think that this event helps bring together the food, the dance, the people, the merriments.
That's what being African and being Nigerian's all about.
-Well, congrats, man.
It was awesome.
-Thank you so much.
-Very few people outside the West African community are consuming the culture and eating the food, but right now, there is also a movement towards trying to create these bridges, right, between the West African food and the food in Texas and Houston, right?
Playing with ingredients.
They're tasting heat levels.
They're presenting it maybe in a more modern way.
And it's just fun to be part of and see this in sort of its beginning phase.
♪♪ -My name is Tobi Smith, and I was born in Lagos, Nigeria.
So, I moved over here about four years ago.
♪♪ I want to use the ingredients that I have over here to make things that I grew up eating.
There's a lot of communities in Houston, so we try to draw from these different food cultures and fuse them with the Nigerian cuisine.
♪♪ So we create experiences, dinners, events, parties, and small gatherings for people, and the crowd is very diverse.
They want their culture to be shown to people in a different light.
♪♪ -Chef Tobi is really passionate about trying to make Nigerian flavors more popular, so he's kind of introducing it through cuisine already familiar to Westerners.
Well, what are we doing?
-So we're making a pepper soup dish.
-Well, I love pepper soup.
That's so cool.
-Yeah, it's a play on the Vietnamese pho and Nigerian peppers with the noodles with the... -Which is perfect in Houston because you have Nigerian... -Yes, yes.
You know, bring in those two cultures together.
-This pepper soup through the eyes of pho.
It's like here's my Nigerian food through the lens of all the accepted food types.
There are many similarities, I think, with Southeast Asia.
With Ghana and Nigeria, you share the peanuts, which is used a lot in, let's say, Thai food.
-And then, you have the fish sauces that you have in Vietnam and Thai food.
-We have the same fishes -- dried fish in Nigeria.
And then Ghana.
-Senegal and Ghana.
-So you build the umami flavor.
With those things.
-And also, of course, the love of heat.
-So that's a pepper-soup spice blend.
It gives it the color, and it also gives it that flavor.
So, we also have -- We usually use some sort of vegetable in there.
So, we're using Thai basil.
You know, that aroma.
-Some floral -- yeah, yeah, yeah.
So you can get that back to that pho.
-To that pho.
So it's going to be, you know...
It's gonna be rich, it's gonna be refreshing, and you still have that feel of that spicy, you know, pepper soup in there.
People know a lot about Southeast Asian cooking.
-They do not know so much about African and West African food.
A lot of people go to Vietnamese restaurants.
Everybody knows -- "Where are you going to?"
"I'm going to a pho place."
And you have restaurants actually named after pho.
It's a lot of them in Houston, but you don't have that as the main item when you go to, like, Nigerian restaurants.
-Well, food takes time to travel, right?
The more we interact and share with Africa, the more people are gonna know about things like that.
-But I think when something tastes this good, the truth is gonna come out.
It's gonna come out.
-This is good, man.
-We don't appreciate African food in the same way as Asian cuisine because we don't trade with Africa the same way that we trade with other parts of the world.
We see food in supermarket, but we never see it associated with Africa as a premium.
All those things change why you adore and crave and want something.
And we don't have that relationship, as a whole, with Africa yet.
-Let's get them in here.
-Come on, guys!
♪♪ -One, two.
Two, three, alright?
-Now that goes... ♪♪ -Awesome.
I love how you cooked the meat, too.
Very well done.
Very -- Flavors, you know, are so deep.
♪♪ -Oh, wow.
This is the Vietnamese rice noodle, Nigerian pepper-soup broth, and then we have that goat meat that's been cooked down for about four hours, and it's really tender, so that you can enjoy and not have to visit your dentist.
-Alright, so you guys enjoy.
-This is good.
The flavors are great.
Tobi does his private dinners so he can test the food and see the reaction of his diners.
They all come to gather not only for the food, but also to see each other and remind each other, "We are a community," and give each other support.
-This is Sarah, my friend.
-We work out together.
We shop together.
We do all things fun together.
-And I've never had Nigerian food.
This is delicious.
-And that's Vanessa.
And she -- We accepted her into the Nigerian clique.
But she's actually from Equatorial Guinea.
-So, how would food in Guinea be different than Nigerian food?
-We share a couple of things similar to Nigeria because it's still West Africa, but we get -- Our "fusion" will be from Spain 'cause we're colonized by Spanish people.
-But what would be one dish that's specifically from...?
You guys do the peanut soup?
-Yeah, from Ghana.
-Oh, they do?
-I thought that was ours.
[ Laughter ] -Not even Nigeria.
-We'll give them the peanut soup, but take the jollof rice.
-Even that, the jollof is from Senegal.
From the Wolof people in Senegal.
-Marcus, can you give us one thing?
You have suya.
Okay, we'll take the suya.
-You have fantast-- And pepper soup.
-We'll take that.
We'll take that.
-No, but I think the food -- It's a great window into people's culture, right?
A city like Houston is so important because it introduces people to all the West African countries in one way, particularly, like, with the cow feet.
-The goat head.
-Yeah, the goat head.
-A little harder for the Western palette, but that's okay because we learned how to eat kimchi and we learned how to eat sushi.
We learned how to eat from other cultures, so, you know, but this, for me, is my favorite dish.
-Because it's really light and it represents both cultures.
Really, really cool.
-It's like the best of Houston, right?
Good job, Chef.
A toast to -- from Lagos to Houston.
-Pump it up!
♪♪ ♪♪ -What's up, guys?
What's going on?
-Hey, what's going on?
Good to see you.
Good to see you.
-Ope is working really, really hard to push African food into the mainstream through his pop-up, which is really like a restaurant take-over for a night.
♪♪ So, for Ope, his dream is really to create a West African fast-casual restaurant that is inspired by African street food.
-This is our tilly-willy plantains.
Sounds like a really good rapper.
Tilly Willy, right?
So you see fried plantains, you see bean fritters, all food that you're really eating on the go.
It's real good.
-That's just kind of what our whole thing is about.
It's about contemporary renditions of West African cuisine.
Taking other cultural influences into play and just try to make it our own.
-What are the type of comments you're getting from your food?
-Uh, "We want more of it."
[ Laughter ] -More of it?
-"This is flavor that we've been waiting for."
-I think it's two-fold.
You get your crowd of people who -- They eat the food, and it gives them a sense of nostalgia, right?
-You also get your crowd of people who are coming out here to eat something that gives them a different experience.
And so it's coming up with a cuisine that can definitely hit both of those ends of the spectrum, but then putting together an overall experience is important.
♪♪ -Ope's magical at bringing people together.
He knows enough chefs to execute the food.
He knows enough people in front of the house to do that.
And then you also have this tying into this great musician, artist.
There are football players, poets, foodies.
So that's a perfect recipe for a great night.
-If you think about the measure of how good of a West African restaurant you are, it's the jollof rice.
-So, our rendition of jollo is a jambalaya-style jollof, and then we added some non-traditional vegetables.
So we add some cauliflower and some Brussels sprouts in there, seasoned with yaji spice or suya spice.
I think we're gonna be bringing some more food out here shortly.
-How did you get started?
How did you realize, "Okay, this is not a hobby anymore.
I'm doing this."
-You know, I've lived in different parts of the world, and despite wherever I'm at, I always have to go out of my way to get the foods that I grew up on, right?
It's always never in the location it happens to be convenient to the rest of society.
-I also noticed that, within a lot of cultures, that was not the case.
I could easily go and get some Italian food.
I could easily go get some Chinese food or whatnot.
And one day, I said, "Okay, that's it.
We're going to create the first contemporary West African-inspired concept that allows the rest of the community into the beauty that we have as a culture in food."
-And, Eric, you've been writing about the food scene for a long time here.
How do you see the Houston food scene evolve?
-I think we're at the point now where each wave of different immigrant -- you know, once they get settled and a generation grows up here, they want to start telling their own stories.
We saw that with Vietnamese immigrants and people from South Asia.
And I really think West African is the next wave.
You know, two years ago, I -- I didn't know what jollof rice is.
And now I know where to go to find that and get my hands around what that cuisine is.
The more you know about West Africa, the likelier you are to eat the food, right?
That's why I think it's so important that, as Africans, we have to claim back and rewrite the story.
And we're not just doing it from the food level, right?
That is, business is important because that changes it.
Sports and pop culture, you know -- that opens up.
-You see it growing, you see it coming, and I feel like it's our duty to push the needle forward to continue to bridge that gap, whether it be food, entertainment, music, athletics.
I feel like it's our responsibility to really put us on a map, if you will.
Thank you so much for having us.
-Thank you, Eric.
Thank you so much.
Thank you, Mandy.
♪♪ ♪♪ -When I came to Houston, I did not know what to think.
Leaving, I see the future.
So, in other aspects of West African culture, it's hit mainstream.
There are West African basketball players in the NBA.
There's tons of West African NFL players.
If you're thinking about the moment of Afrobeat music, it's here right now.
♪♪ The food is this last level that we can break.
It's really a moment, right?
I call it the new noir where this generation of cooks here in Houston with West African heritage is the one that's going to break it.
♪♪ [ Cheers and applause ] -All right.
Thank you so much.
-Next time on "No Passport Required"... -I'm looking for the menu.
Where's the menu?
-I don't have a menu because I cook what I want!
Even if you're not Filipino, the chances are you've got a Filipino friend.
-Filipino food is like the next big cuisine.
What does this moment feel like?
-It's on this other level right now.
-There's this sense of pride in everything that we're doing.
-What have we got here?
-Is this lechón?
-If there's not a table packed with food, then something is not right.
-To order "No Passport Required" on DVD, visit shopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.