The Damel serves global cuisine to the Point Richmond community

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Photo of Chef Oumar Diouf contributed. Photo of her restaurant by Kathy Chouteau

By Kathy Chouteau

A chef who honed his culinary skills in his mother’s kitchen in Senegal has opened an Afro-Brazilian fusion restaurant and market in Point Richmond.

Chef Oumar Diouf launched The Damel on November 20 at the location once occupied by the Brazilian Pikanha Steak House at 25 W. Richmond Ave. The restaurant, which offers West African and South American cuisine that echoes Diouf’s global history, currently features a (but plentiful) menu and outdoor seating only. The Damel will roll out its full offerings and indoor seating when it opens its grand opening on January 20.

Popular menu items right now at Damel, by Diouf, include Argentinian empanadas and Dibi plates, a street dish from Senegal made of grilled meat with sautéed onions, garlic, and artisanal mustard.

The Damel kitchen (contributed photos)

The Damel also has a “mini-market,” Diouf said, where people can buy “the same things you find in Africa, Argentina and Brazil”.

The chef not only drew inspiration from his experience for his menu selections, but also from his Senegalese roots for the name of his restaurant. “Damel” is a Wolof title meaning ruler or king, and Diouf said his restaurant honors his birthplace and strives to be the leader in quality, affordable cuisine.

Diouf’s path to his culinary career has been long and winding. His father died when he was 13, leaving his mother to raise a family of seven on her own. While Diouf’s older brother helped his mother earn the family income, he was responsible for cooking for everyone. His mother taught him the ropes and Diouf said he “is still learning from her today”.

Chef Oumar Diouf (Photo provided)

The experience planted the seed of Diouf’s love for the culinary arts, but his nascent interest was sidetracked by a pressing need to help support his family. He spent some time in law school and pursued a career as a footballer, which saw him play for local clubs in Senegal and then professionally for the Lanus football team in Argentina.

Even before an injury ended his football career, Diouf had entered cooking school to resume his true passion. He opened his first restaurant and food truck in Necochea, a seaside town south of Buenos Aires, and eventually moved to Brazil, where he ran a catering business that served FIFA World Cup athletes. 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Photo by Kathy Chouteau

He moved to the Bay Area in 2016 and before starting The Damel in Point Richmond, opened a restaurant and food truck under the same name in Oakland.

When asked if, besides the cultural exposure, playing soccer helped inform his work in the culinary arts, Diouf – who speaks multiple languages ​​- said that “every chef should have some sort of athletic experience” , because it helped him gain endurance and competitiveness. “Everything I do, I always want to win,” like when I play sports.

Diouf said that at the end of the day, “food is her mother tongue and her experiences are” infused into every dish we serve. “

The Damel is located at 25 W. Richmond Ave. at Point Richmond and is open daily from 11 am to 7:30 pm Deliveries are available via Doordash and GrubHub; people will also be able to order soon on the restaurant’s website. For more information call (510) 374 6383 or info@thedamel.com.


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