A CHAT WITH CHEF BANTA
Banta, the Head Chef at Woodlands in Brooklyn, New York had a thing for Caribbean
food the first time that he tried it, especially Jamaican food. This developed one day when
he was in New York and got a load of Jerk chicken only for $5 at a takeaway. It was the
aromatic and distinct spices that fascinated him. Chef originates from Mali, West Africa,
but gained his culinary skills in France.
What is your favourite food to eat?
Peanut sauce. Strangely I can’t make it but I love it. What I love is that you can have it
with anything even meat. Sometimes I go to the African shop just to get it.
What made you want to do fusion food at Woodlands?
Well, Woodland has been here in Brooklyn for 7 years now and in the beginning it was
more of a fine dining restaurant. We had dishes like Rabbit Ragu on the menu. The food
wasn’t really corresponding to the locals that live in Flatbush Avenue. We have a massive
Caribbean community so it was only right to cater to them and others interested
in Caribbean and fusion food!
Did you have to train to cook Caribbean food?
No, I didn’t. I have friends who are Caribbean so certain dishes were not unfamiliar.