One on One Podcast

Can This Ancient Grain Lift West African Farmers Out Of Poverty?

A conversation with Pierre Thiam

Chef Pierre Thiam is on a mission to bring Fonio to the world. His idea is to give back to the land of his ancestors, and allow farmers to have a decent life. Against all odds.

11 April 2023

Pierre Thiam

Founder & President, Yolélé | Founder & Executive Chef, Teranga, USA

Pierre Thiam is a celebrated chef, restaurateur, award-winning cookbook author, and entrepreneur. Born and raised in Senegal, he is known for his innovative cooking style, at once modern and eclectic yet rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. He is the chef and owner of critically acclaimed, Harlem-based restaurant Teranga, which serves fast-casual West African fare directly sourced from farmers in the region, and the co-founder of Yolélé, a purpose-driven food business that makes African ingredients available to US home cooks and restaurants, while connecting smallholder farms in West Africa with the global food economy. Pierre is the author of three cookbooks, and this September 2023 will release his third, Simply West African: Easy, Joyful Recipes for Every Kitchen. He has won numerous awards and accolades for his cooking and advocacy work and he is on the board of directors for two global nonprofits, and SOS Sahel. Here’s a TED Talk he did on the power of the ancient African grain fonio to help Africa prosper.




Yields 4 cups
1+1/2 cups water
1 cup fonio


In a medium pot bring the water to a boil.
Add the fonio and stir once. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover tightly.
Cook for approximately 5 minutes until the water is absorbed. Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork.
Serve or set aside.

Chocolate & Coconut Fonio Pudding with Honey-Roasted Mango

Serves 4


2 cup coconut milk (more as needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup medjool dates, seeded (or 1 cup sugar)
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
1 cup cooked fonio
Pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons cocoa nibbles (or chopped dark chocolate)
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups of fresh mango, cut in small cubes
Shredded coconut dried unsweetened, toasted


Add 1 cup of the coconut milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Add the vanilla extract and turn off the heat. Reserve 1 cup of coconut milk mixture in a separate bowl.

Put the remaining 1 cup of coconut milk mixture into the bottom of a blender. Add the dates, cacao powder ,and sea salt and blend on high until smooth and creamy.

Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Fold in 1/2 a cup of the reserved coconut milk. Add the cooked fonio and fold until well combined. Add the remaining reserved ½ cup of coconut milk and fold.

Gently fold in the cocoa nibbles or chopped dark chocolate.

Place the bowl back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let the pudding firm up. If it's too firm when you want to eat it, stir in more coconut milk.

Meanwhile, put the honey in a large pan over medium high heat. When the honey begins to bubble and slightly darken, add the cut mangoes. Allow cooking undisturbed for 2 or 3 minutes until it begins to caramelize. Stir once and cook for a few more minutes.

Serve cold topped with the cooked mango, a sprinkle of cacao powder, and toasted coconut.

One on One Podcast with Antoine Abou-Samra

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