the African restaurant is not to everyone’s taste

the African restaurant is not to everyone’s taste

After several years spent doing take-out sales in the markets, aboard a van, Gnama Cissé opened his restaurant, rue du Moulin-à-Vent, in Poitiers, at the end of 2020.

AT Poitiers, Gnama Cissé cooks an attiéké – dish made from cassava semolina – to die for. Cheese samosas, shrimp fritters, sweet potato fries, cod fritters, chicken with mafé sauce, yassa-style fish complete the menu of his small African and Caribbean restaurant, located in the city center. An exhilarating aroma tickles the olfactory neurons of customers, as soon as you enter Chez Gnama. The smell isn’t to everyone’s taste, however.

The owners of the three apartments located above the establishment took the restaurateur to court at the end of 2022, on the pretext that kitchen fumes would happily spread through the building, making it impossible to rent or resell the empty accommodation in question. of occupants. Rather rare approach, the judge in chambers and his clerk went on site, mid-January, to “smell” the floors. Wednesday 1er March, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ request to close the restaurant on rue du Moulin-à-Vent.

Gnama Cissé has good reason to feel “relieved”. Opened at the end of 2020, his canteen with four tables is the culmination of his life, which began in Guinea thirty-three years ago. Before opening a shop, the young woman scoured the markets of Poitiers and the surrounding area aboard a van dedicated to the sale of African specialties. “When are you going to start your own restaurant? », asked his regulars. Gnama Cissé then invested “all his savings” on this ground floor, on the edge of the pedestrian area. The first letters arrived fairly quickly asking him to stop embalming the building with his “exotic food”. “The beginning of a real harassment, borderline racist, she takes offense today. Smells or not, how does the “exotic” character of my kitchen pose a problem? »

Guinean recipes from her grandmother

To appease the conflict, the restaurateur spared no effort, nor her wallet. She replaced her cooker hood with a bespoke model costing 4,000 euros. She had the air duct lined by the landlord. She even crossed off her card “sauces that simmer for a long time” in order to limit the volume of scents. At the same time, a petition was launched online by loyal customers: more than 1,500 signatories gave their support to this mother of three children in “long battlefield”.

The 33-year-old chef of Guinean origin was able to count on the support of these loyal customers in the face of the harassment of which she claims to be a victim.

Arrived in France at the age of 15 with a baby, Gnama Cissé was then taken care of by the child welfare system. Studies in the social and family economy sector (BTS, State diploma) had then opened the doors to him of a community center in Poitiers, but the experience of “referent” – i.e. a role of accompanying the inhabitants and their projects – had not led to a job. The young woman then remembered that her Guinean cuisine did not displease her host family. He also remembered the recipes of his grandmother, in the small town of Kindia: “She taught me everything. In Africa, you know how to cook from the age of 10. »

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