By: N. Amma Twum-Baah (April 1, 2010)
For a girl who grew up far removed from being a fan of the kitchen, Sandra Amoako sure has made some unexpected strides where the art of cooking is concerned. Her first cookbook “Akwaaba: A Taste of Ghana” has been well received by both Africans and non Africans alike. And since her dream was never to become the author of a Ghanaian cookbook, her life’s story can best be described as one of those movie plots with a twist at the end you never saw coming. A fan of unexpected twists and turns that lead to happy endings myself, AG is pleased to grace its April cover with this beautiful smart trendsetter who has not only helped to put Ghanaian cuisine on the map of recognizable dishes, but who has now started a trend in which the smell of sweet Ghanaian delicacies will permeate the airs coming from kitchen windows across the globe.
Sandra Amoako is the first of four children, and was born and raised in Accra, Ghana. She came to the United States where she attended Bucknell college and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Sandra’s “growing jaded taste” for cafeteria food in her senior year of college led her to her own kitchen where she started cooking a lot more often. Her new necessity became her new passion, and she found herself cooking “all types of dishes” including Ghanaian meals.
The key to finding one’s niche is to take the thing you do best, and turn that thing into your life’s passion, and then share it with others. Many times you will find that it’s this one thing that initially seemed so meaningless and effortless that most floats your boat. For some it is journaling-turned-blogging, for others it is sewing-turned-fashion. For Sandra, it happened to be cooking-turned-writing recipe books, and she has followed that passion through with the support and encouragement of friends, and her own enthusiasm.
She was also spurred to change when she realized that very few, if any at all, bookstores across the United States carried Ghanaian cookbooks on their shelves.
In her words: “Since college, I have been meeting people from all over the world who have been interested in Ghanaian cuisine. Unfortunately, you don’t see Ghanaian cookbooks in bookstores (the only African cookbooks I see here are East and North African cookbooks and there are only a handful of Ghanaian cookbooks online) and my friends and I would always mention how we wished there would be more Ghanaian cookbooks in bookstores.”
However, Sandra also says “writing a Ghanaian cookbook was a spur of the moment decision” that came about three years ago. Akwaaba: A Taste of Ghana was written with a broader customer base in mind - not only for those who love African dishes - but for those willing to experiment and try new dishes as well. She also had in mind Ghana’s youth, especially those with a limited knowledge on how to cook Ghanaian dishes, as well as, “non-Africans who really enjoy Ghanaian food.” The responses received from both Africans and non Africans alike, have made it all worth her while.
Sandra Amoako has definitely found what makes her tick! And while there are currently no cooking shows on her list for now, this is surely not the last you’ll be hearing of her. She plans to produce cooking demonstrations to be made available on DVD, in addition to other future cookbooks featuring general African cuisine. She is already thinking up recipes for a second edition of “Akwaaba: A Taste of Ghana.”
More information on “Akwaaba: A Taste of Ghana” from the Author
Currently, the book can be purchased online at http://www.alikobooks.com/ and on http://www.amazon.com/. It is also available at Barnes and Noble’s distribution network by the first week in April 2010 (the cookbook will be available for 24-hr delivery for customers who shop online at http://www.bn.com/ and available in 5 to 8 days for customers requesting it in Barnes & Noble stores). There is currently one West African grocery store in Philadelphia that sells the book and I am working on getting it in other African grocery stores so one can buy the book and the ingredients! My cookbook will also be available soon in bookstores and gift stores in Accra and other cities in Ghana. People can check “Where To Buy” tab at http://www.alikobooks.com/ to get updates on where to buy a copy.