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How a New Generation of Black Chefs Earned a Seat at the Table of French Haute Cuisine

When French presidents are calling you by your first name, it’s a pretty good sign that you’ve arrived. For Malian chef Mory Sacko, it came as a huge surprise, but it is evidence of the artistry that he and other African chefs are bringing to the reinvention of high-end French cuisine. By incorporating elements of their African culinary traditions, they are creating something new and celebrated. At 29, Sacko is arguably the most popular and recognizable Black chef among the general French public today, thanks in no small part to his appearance as a contestant in the 2020 season of Top Chef in France, where the TV series is taken very seriously, and his current stint as host of the traveling cooking show Cuisine Ouverte. Along with serving up a complex Afro-French and Japanese-inspired cuisine, Mosuke challenges French palates—and perhaps a few prejudices—into accepting the foods and flavors of Mali, Senegal and Cameroon, among other countries, as significant and legitimate gastronomic experiences.