Trailblazing chef and food blogger Chan Gai

When Chan Gai, 26, started sharing her food videos with family and friends little did she know that she will be a viral sensation. The talented chef’s YouTube videos have clocked over 30, 000 views and have garnered a loyal fan base of over 1,000 subscribers. This all happened in a very short space of time – just under 3 months.

“It all started on Snapchat,” Chan explained. “People were requesting the recipes of the food videos I was posting.”

Mbakhali Gerrteh and Sauce Dewtirr

Chan said she quickly realised that there was a huge interest in Gambian dishes and the cooking methods.

“What I noticed was that a lot of people my age (millennials) struggle to cook our local cuisines leading to a lack of self-confidence.” It dawned on Chan that there was a void in the food blogging market and that no one was catering to a Gambian audience.  

In May 2019 Chan, with the support and encouragement of her family, decided to launch Barri Femme’s Kitchen – Cooking with Chan on YouTube so that she could share the rich flavours of Gambia cuisines with the rest of the world.  

Fufu and Supa Kanja

“I enjoyed cooking and I am passionate about food. I encouraged young people to be more confident through my channel,” Chan, the trailblazing chef and food blogger said.  

Her Gambian dishes include the popular Jollof rice (Benachin), the street food ebbeh, Mbakhali Gerrteh and Sauce Dewtirr, Supa Kanja, Chicken Afra, Pem Beng, Domoda, Dahine Mbeup among many others.

All these rich cuisines have been showcased on Chan’s YouTube channel with glowing reviews from her fan base. Her videos are all well made with list of the recipes and the step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and cook the various Gambian dishes.

Jollof rice with chicken and vegetables

Chan is warm, friendly and engaging in her videos. At the moment the videos are made for a Senegambian audience at home and the diaspora. Her videos are narrated in Wolof, a language widely spoken in the Senegambia region. The multitalented Chan is a one woman power house – she shoots, edits and scores her videos in addition to starring in them.

She said the response to her YouTube videos have been positive and encouraging.

 “We are popular in Senegal for some reason,” Chan said. She believed it is due to the fact that we have similar dishes and the Senegalese are curious to see how Gambians prepare their common dishes in a different way.  

Fish Stew

Chan said she had also received lots of support and messages from Gambian women in particularly urging her to continue with her food videos. Some even thanked her for “saving their marriages” as they were having problems with their partners due to their inabilities to prepare authentic Gambian dishes.

The Birmingham based chef and blogger said her favourite Gambian dish is Benachin (Jollof rice). Who will argue with her? Jollof rice is the most popular dish in the West Africa subregion.  

Prawn dish

In her cooking she made use of the natural spices and herbs that brings out the rich flavours of the Gambia. She uses garlic, spring onion, black and red pepper. And that is a winning formula in Gambia cuisine.

Even the name of Chan’s brand Barri Femme, a local Wolof slang for someone versatile and creative, captures the wonderful and vibrant way in which she has given traditional Gambian dishes a modern spin and showing it in a new way.  

Chan has big ideas to take Barri Femme to higher heights. She plans to introduce new recipes from different countries on her diverse menu as well as a healthy eating programme for people with health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol etc and who are unaware of what to eat.  

Super Kanja served with fufu and rice

In Chan Gai, the Gambia has a worthy ambassador flying the flag and putting our rich culinary tradition on the map.

We at Gambiana are obsessed with Chan’s dishes, so we are sharing the love with our readers and giving you one of her yummy recipes to try out this weekend. Follow the link:

Barri Femme’s Cooking with Chan Youtube Channel:

By Momodou Musa Touray


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