NEW YORK CITY – After declining during the pandemic last year, the New York African Restaurant Week Festival is back in full swing this weekend, showcasing specialties alongside wine, fashion and folk art from across the continent.
The event, which takes place at Hillel Plaza in Flatbush Junction in Brooklyn from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, will also feature live DJs, world music and a cooking competition.
The event took place in 2020, according to festival founder Akin Akinsanya, “but it was mostly because we thought it was the responsible thing to do. The world was going through a crisis then and we understood it. This year, as a way of thanking those who helped us, we are giving away a free ticket to any first responder who can check it at the door. ”
This year marks the ninth anniversary of the festival. At its inception, Akinsanya told Patch, it started the event as a way to educate visitors about the food, culture and art prevalent on the African continent. This tradition remains the centerpiece of the festival. “At the same time,” he said, “music is going to be a more important component than ever. So you can come and experience the culture, hear the music and taste a wide variety of food.”
You can sample indigenous dishes from a dozen restaurants, each representing dishes from across Africa and the Black Diaspora, including foods from Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad / Haiti, Ethiopia, Guinea and from Granada.
In addition to the food available, nearly two dozen vendors will also be on site, offering their African perspectives on fashion, beauty and wellness. Raw organic produce and hair products will be interspersed with arts and crafts in the market.
In keeping with tradition, this year’s theme is plantain, and every chef has been challenged to include the ingredient in their own menus by offering at least one plantain dish.
“The aim of the festival is to present what is African to a wider audience,” Akinsanya said. “We want to educate people on the continent and its inhabitants and make them discover through food, fashion, folk art and music another side of Africa that they may not have known. “
For more information, see their website.