Meet Our Founder Jainaba Jeng Kitchens of Africa founder - Jainaba Jeng

Hi, I'm Jainaba Jeng, founder of Kitchens of Africa.
I'm so glad you’re here!
This company is my dream come true, and I'm delighted to have the chance to introduce you to our little slice of Africa.
First, some background.

I was born and raised in The Gambia, a tiny country in the western part of Africa. Because the opportunities for higher education were limited there, my family sent me to a university in Halifax, Nova Scotia to get my degree in International Relations. While I was in school, a military coup occurred in my country. Because of the ensuing political climate, my family felt it was best that I not return home after graduation.

I decided to move to Raleigh, North Carolina in 1997, where a few of my relatives had already settled. I quickly fell in love with my new surroundings and wholeheartedly embraced the American dream, believing that hard work and determination made anything possible.

Over the years, I worked in a variety of professional jobs, each one fulfilling in its own way. But in my heart, I knew that that my real passion was food. Back in my home country, food had always played an integral part of the customs, culture and traditions. I had been accustomed to eating amazingly good, home-cooked meals, packed with tons of flavor. Looking back, I now realize how much I took for granted.

I yearned for the comforting flavors of African food. I knew I could easily find sauces and spices that enabled me to make international dishes from other countries like India, Thailand and Mexico. But the same convenience foods didn’t exist for African cuisine. If I wanted to eat food that tasted like that of my homeland, I had to cook it from scratch. It required lengthy prep work, endless ingredient sourcing and long hours of slow simmering.

I found myself wondering, if other ethnic cuisines could be easily prepared at home, why not African? My mission was born – introduce a line of flavorful and authentic African-inspired convenience foods from all over the continent, make them easy to use and hope to one day see them on mainstream supermarket shelves alongside other ethnic specialties.

My first challenge was determining how to create the most authentic and shelf-stable product line without sacrificing taste or quality.

Second, I insisted we shut the door to preservatives, additives, thickeners, colorings, fillers and other artificial ingredients. We never used them in Africa, and we don’t need them here!

So I went to work and personally developed all the recipes, taking great pride in capturing the essence of African cooking – food that is well seasoned, super concentrated with complex flavor combinations of exotic African ingredients (spicy, tangy, sweet, pungent and bitter), and simmered gently for hours to create layers of bold flavors.

It took more than a year of tireless experimentation, endless research and development, not to mention the arduous task of being chief taste tester, which involved eating Maffé and Yassa for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner (yeah, tough job).

Today, I'm proud to introduce a line of products straight from my heart and directly from the Kitchens of Africa. When you taste our foods, I hope you will feel the warmth, love and soul of all women of Africa to whom I pay tribute on our packaging; they are responsible for most of the cooking in Africa.

Our simmer sauces and jerk pastes are just the beginning. Please check back frequently as we plan to keep adding more products. My goal is to eventually create regional delicacies representing all four corners of the vast and exciting continent that is Africa.

So step into our kitchen, put your feet up, and allow us to take your taste buds on an exotic journey to Africa.

Na resax jamah! {“Hearty Appetite!” in Wolof, my native tongue}
Jainaba Jeng

P.S. If you have any questions about our products or our company, write me. I'm never too busy or tired to talk about food.
Send me an e-mail and I will personally reply.