Pierre Thiam is a chef, author, and social activist best known for bringing West African cuisine to the global, fine dining world. He is the executive chef of the award-winning restaurant Nok by Alara in Lagos, Nigeria, and the Signature Chef of the 5-star Pullman Hotel in Dakar, Senegal. He is also the executive chef and co-owner of Teranga, a fast-casual food chain from New York City. His company Yolele Foods advocates for smallholder farmers in the Sahel by opening new markets for crops grown in Africa. Yolele’s signature product, Yolele Fonio, is found in Whole Foods, Amazon, and other retailers across America.
Born and raised in Dakar, Senegal, Thiam’s cooking style is at once modern and eclectic, rooted in the rich culinary traditions of West Africa. His first cookbook, Yolele! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal, was published in 2009 and was a finalist of the Julia Child Cookbook Award and received the Prix du Jury at the Gourmand Award in Paris. His second cookbook, Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl was a finalist of the James Beard Award for Best International Cookbook in 2016.
Thiam has cooked for the King of Morocco, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Through his advocacy and many media appearances (CNN’s Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain, Food Network’s Iron Chef, BBC Food Programme), he has become known as a culinary ambassador, dedicated to promoting West African cooking throughout the world. His TEDTalk, given at TEDGlobal 2017 in Arusha, Tanzania, has been viewed over one million times. Thiam sits on the board of directors of IDEO.org.