Chef Claude Bigayimpunzi, is one of Rwanda’s most sought after cooks and among the chefs whose recipes will be featured in the United Nations cookbook that will be published at the UN Food Systems summit 2021. The cookbook dubbed “The United Nations Cookbook: For People and Planet”, will be written for the average consumer so that they can cook and eat better for themselves, and in a way that is supportive of the planet. It is a project of the Youth Representatives Steering Committee of the United Nations Department of Global Communications. He also recently contributed to World Vision’s ‘More than one meal a day campaign’ with his Cornmeal Porridge recipe. He had a chat with Sharon Kantengwa about the recipe and culinary experience. What inspired the recipe ‘plantain ginger honey peanut Galette’? The recipe that needed to be featured had some challenging criteria. The dishes proposed had to be culturally representative of our region, the recipe specification was that it had to be under 45 minutes to prepare and cook. Also I had to take into consideration that they were looking for recipes that can improve our food system, for example, those that encourage biodiversity, contribute to soil health, are plant-forward, can reduce waste, use less water, can be locally grown, have a high concentration of nutrients, and can boost the immune system. Of course there is not a dish that could meet all those expectations, but I think I came close. As a member of Chefs Manifesto, what are some of its milestones? Chefs Manifesto is a chef-led project that brings together over 700 chefs from around the world to explore how they can deliver a sustainable food system. As a chefs bridge the gap between the table and fork, the Chefs Manifesto empowers cooks with a framework tied to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Depending on where they are in the world, chefs advocate about various topics, I particularly mostly advocate about reducing food waste, and about food affordability. What does this development mean to you, especially your career? I believe they wanted to involve chefs for this cookbook, as chefs are big influencers of food consumption, and are advocating against food waste, diversifying ingredients, consuming local, and availability of good nutritious food for all. Claude Bigayimpunzi. Photos: Courtesy This development just reinforced what I always believed that “the sky is the limit”. What I mean by that is that when I attended the culinary school, I thought it was all about creating recipes and cooking, but as time went by, I observed and started paying close attention to food systems, I became aware of where the food I was cooking was coming from, how it was grown, in what condition and so on. What I think it does for my career is that it is opening horizons, seeing the big picture, not just the end by cooking what’s in your kitchen, rather by understanding the whole chain which consequently will create more purposes and challenges as well. You have mentioned before, that the Rwandan Chefs Association was planning on a cookbook. How far has this project gone? The cookbook project is still alive, so far we have collected some recipes from the group. But we didn’t want the cookbook to be just a collection of recipes, indeed we would like to make it more complete by adding and explaining cooking technics, and taking into consideration what the average household has at home in terms of kitchen equipment. But we have set a target of having it done by July 2021. From your experience, is Rwanda doing anything to tap into culinary tourism? What more can be done? I find that Rwanda is doing a lot by promoting all these new hotels that have been set up lately, you will notice that they are mostly of high standards which consequently reflects on their elaborate menus. Another idea I can add will maybe be to organise an annual nationwide food festival.