Savannah African Art Museum Offers Virtual Mother's Day Workshop on Senegalese Cooking

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

Mother’s Day is May 10 and, for many people, plans for the day are requiring adjustment and creative thinking due to precautions around COVID-19. Savannah African Art Museum (SAAM) would like to help restore a sense of celebration to this day by offering families an unique opportunity to do something special for mom by providing access to a virtual DIY workshop called “A Taste of Senegal.”

SAAM is ready to guide viewers through the process of preparing an eclectic Mother’s Day feast using information, links to videos, and recipes from renowned Senegalese chef, cookbook author and restaurateur, Pierre Thiam. The Senegalese dishes are from Thiam’s 2019 cookbook, “The Fonio Cookbook, An Ancient Grain Rediscovered.” Once users have reviewed the online offerings and chosen which dishes to prepare, they can download free blank recipe cards on which to record their ingredients and methods. In addition, SAAM Education Coordinator Lisa Jackson will introduce the workshop with a video message elaborating on Pierre Thiam’s talent and expertise.

In Chef Thiam’s videos, he talks about traditional African food “from the source to the bowl,” shares African history and culture – including connections to foods of our southern region, such as black-eyed peas and gumbo with rice – and will introduce folks to “fonio,” an ancient tiny-seeded healthy, whole grain, indigenous to Senegal and grown today throughout many parts of Western Africa, including Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Chad. Viewers will also learn about the incredible journey he made from Senegal to the U.S. while in pursuit of a degree in physics and chemistry – and how he become an international rising star chef.

Creating some Senegal dishes could be a fun activity for families who want to surprise mom with something out of the ordinary, or mom could even take on a “sous chef” role and join in the fun. It could also be opportunity to prepare a special treat for yourself, if you find you’re unable to celebrate Mother’s Day with family this year. This exciting opportunity promises to be wrapped in the cultural and historical context of Senegal and other West African countries. All participants need to do is access SAAM’s website at to explore the information, recipes and video links, and they can start cooking.

“Many families celebrate Mother’s Day by making and sharing a special meal and treats. With social distancing still in place and many people continuing to shelter at home, the time seems right to offer our followers a way to combine the culinary aspect of Mother’s Day celebrations with the opportunity to try something new and exciting – a good way to break up the routine and engage the whole family,” SAAM Executive Director and Chief Curator Billie Stultz said.

SAAM encourages anyone who would like to explore Chef Thiam’s recipes to check out his two other cookbooks, “Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal,” and “Senegal – Modern Senegalese Recipes,” available at and

After trying their hands at a few new recipes, Savannah African Art Museum hopes viewers will feel compelled to learn more about Africa through SAAM’s ongoing virtual tours and — once the museum re-opens — with an in-person visit. SAAM will continue to introduce online new DIY workshops every two weeks and monthly educational in-depth observation videos with experts from SAAM on their new YouTube channel (