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The Art Cafe - Local Cuisine with a Meaning

My Magazine 2023/09
3 min
In August, the streets of Kololi (near the Tabang Junction and close to ITTOG) were filled with the tempting aroma of grilled chicken from the newly opened restaurant, The Art Cafe, which is a vision of Mr. Adama Bah and the team of ITTOG, involved in a project called No Woman Left Behind(NWLB). It is a place where motivated individuals get empowerment, a platform to prove their talents, and guests can enjoy delicious Gambian cuisine.

The two-storey building will immediately catch your eye as the paintings adorning the walls, by a young artist Famara, a.k.a. DECO, are bright and attractive and portray a story. The main door, painted in nuances of yellowish green colours, is another piece of art, with iron elements welded onto a regular metal gate, and welcomes you into a chic alter place. The outdoor seating under the canopy is modest yet neat. Details, such as chairs made of old tires, paintings on the walls and art pieces, show that the place is a platform for the young to express themselves, and it supports and encourages their creativity.

The restaurant will only serve Gambian cuisine, although the idea of pizza on the evening menu is still in the pipeline. This place is perfect for all those wanting a delicious Gambian traditional lunch. The students of NWLB, who are training in culinary skills under the mentorship of some of the Gambia's best chefs in the hospitality industry, will also prepare fresh pastries and cakes daily. The evening menu will also feature afra or grilled meat. As for drinks, only fresh juices such as wonjo, baobab or ginger juice will be served. If you don't feel like enjoying your meal in the restaurant, you can also order and take away. Art Cafe, with its skilled team and support team of ITTOG students, are also offering services of catering and serving at the functions.  

No Woman Left Behind

The No Woman Left Behind (NWLB) project aims to train vulnerable Gambian women as entrepreneurs and facilitate the creation of small businesses that will be managed by them.

The project trains and mentors the women who have received training and qualifications at the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG) in producing local gastronomic products for the responsible tourism market. The project empowers these women as entrepreneurs and in managerial functions and aims to reduce the existing gender inequality.

Participants are selected based on their motivation and interest and participate from the beginning of their learning process until their business initiative is created. ITTOG manages the project as part of its Access Business Centre programmes. Two main project activities are the training program focused on developing business skills and the personalized mentoring and coaching training program for creating small self-managed businesses.

The NGOs Gambia Women's Chamber of Commerce (GWCC) and the Gambia Gender Platform (GP) support ITTOG in developing the project. The GP supports the project regarding the selection of participants and their training in human rights and gender. The international partner of the project is AETHNIC of Spain, and it is funded by the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development.

The Project of Passion

Art Café is an idea that has been brewing for some time. Once the project of NWLB came to life, it felt fitting for a small restaurant and café to be merged with the dreams of the most passionate students involved in the project. They will manage the restaurant, serve, cook, and care for everything. With a few months of mentors' supervision, they should be able to take over entirely and independently run the restaurant, which is also one of the key goals of the NWLB project.

The Art Café is not just a café. The premises will be purposed as a travel info point, introducing responsible ways of travelling, especially the Ninki Nanka Trail, a community-based journey across the country that lets you have many experiences. Learning about various skills, participating in workshops, feeling the culture and nature and sharing knowledge makes this a different type of travel. All Gambian-made products introduced to you along the way will be displayed in the exhibition room and available for sale as another act of community support, giving creative individuals an opportunity and a place to sell their crafts.

We invite you to visit them as this will show support to the communities and passionate youth of The Gambia. And, of course, you will not regret tasting some of the most delicious local dishes.

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ITTOG: Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia

The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia brings together students from different backgrounds into a challenging educational environment that ...
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