Pierre Thiam

Pierre Thiam is a Senegalese chef, entrepreneur, author, and social activist best known for introducing West African cuisine to global fine dining. Executive chef of the award-winning restaurant Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria and the signature chef of the five-star Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Thiam co-owns Teranga, a fast-casual food chain rooted in traditional African home cooking. He is also the founder/president of Yolélé Foods, a company focused on opening new markets for crops grown in Africa, such as their signature product fonio, an ancient "miracle grain" native to Senegal. 


Looking for a way to pay for college as a foreign student in America, Pierre Thiam began working as a dishwasher in New York City, gradually moving his way up through the kitchen from prep to the line. With his background in chemistry, he found a connection with the process of cooking and started educating himself by reading classic French culinary texts. Thiam’s experience at a SoHo restaurant focused on global cuisine opened his eyes to the possibilities of incorporating his culinary heritage into his cooking style, which is rooted in West African traditions. Over the last two decades, the chef has become renowned as a culinary ambassador dedicated to promoting West African cooking across the world through his advocacy work, media appearances, and critically acclaimed cookbooks, including Yolele! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal and Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, which were finalists for the James Beard, Julia Child, and Gourmand Awards. Thiam’s 2017 Global TedTalk from Tanzania received over a million views. 


Pierre Thiam studied chemistry and physics at a university in Senegal before landing in New York City, where he began working in restaurants.

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