NASSAU, BAHAMAS — On the heels of being featured in a monthly dinner series at the Louisiana-based Senegalese restaurant—Dakar NOLA—Chef Hall cooked for another hungry crowd last week at the 2023 Charleston Wine + Food Festival, the same festival at which he met Chef Serigne Mbaye, the restaurant’s owner, a year prior.
The five-day annual culinary event featured a collective of American and international top chefs, winemakers, brewers, farmers and culinary enthusiasts who are committed to telling stories, piquing curiosities and forging meaningful connections through food.
Chef Hall, who participated in the festival for the first time in 2022, was featured in both the ‘Island Time’ and ‘World of ‘Cue’ events, where he and his all-Bahamian team served the following dishes: ‘Sundee BBQ’; pigeon peas slaw; goat pepper pork rinds; pigeon peas chili with bennie toppings; and his culinary brainchild, conch sausage dogs with house-made relish, muddasick sauce and banana ketchup.
“The Charleston Wine + Food Festival is becoming one of my favorite international events,” said the New Providence native. “This year, we were paired up with some of my favorite chefs from around the world. Chefs like Digby Stridiron, Alain Lemaire, Paola Velez, Oscar Johnson, and Lamar Moore, to name a few.”
He continued: “Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been pushing and celebrating Bahamian food culture publically for at least 16 years. Events like the Charleston Wine + Food Festival allow me the chance and the stage to do that for the world.”
Not only was Chef Hall able to serve his curated menu items, but thanks to a sponsorship from the Ministry of Tourism, Tourism Development Corporation, and Bahamian distillery Pin Drop Rum, he was able to take some local goods to the festival as well.
Though this latest culinary gig joins a growing list of international opportunities for the celebrity chef, Hall says that cooking in Charleston “feels right at home”.
“The first time I went to Charleston, I thought for certain that someone had dropped me off in a Bahamian town.
“The Gullah-Geechee locals are our kin and sound almost identical to Eleutherans and Brilanders. Not only that, but we share commonalities in our food and culture as well,” said Hall.
This commonality in culture and appreciation for diasporic cuisine translated into a positive response to the Bahamian dishes served at the festival.
“The response was amazing. At any event, the best way to measure your success is with long lines, happy guests and running out of food. At both events, our tables had all three happen.”
Chef Hall continued: “Ask any of the three Bahamians that traveled with me what they thought about the event and I’m sure you’ll get nothing but prideful beams.”
“They got to see and appreciate how much the world admires our food. This is why I do these events.”
Chef Hall is set to participate in the Charleston Wine + Food Festival again from March 6 to 10, 2024.