NEW ORLEANS – Serigne Mbaye, the chef behind Dakar NOLA, the Senegalese pop-up restaurant that has garnered a local and national following, is excited to announce it’s opening a brick-and-mortar location with partner Effie Richardson at 3814 Magazine St. Dakar NOLA offers a Senegalese-influenced tasting menu and is open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. The restaurant seats 30 guests, with one seating each evening.
Mbaye studied traditional Senegalese food at his mother’s knee. “Tradition is at the core of everything we do at Dakar NOLA,” said Mbaye. “And it’s a place where every dish tells a story and nurtures the soul. We cannot wait to share our stories and traditions with you.”
The seven-course tasting menu opens with Ataya, a welcome course of Senegalese tea made with gunpowder tea leaves and palm oil bread also called Mburu in the Wololf language. The first appetizer course: Crevette, features Gulf shrimp and tamarind. The second appetizer course: Last Meal, is Chef Serigne’s take on a traditional Senegalese dish consisting of black-eyed peas, crab meat, and palm oil. The next course is a Fonio Salad, considered a West African treasure, and made with West African millet, citrus, finger limes, tomatoes, and a satsuma vinaigrette. Jollof, the next course on the tasting menu, is West Africa’s iconic rice dish. Chef Serigne’s dish will change often and comes from his heart and soul. The sixth course: Yassa, refers to a spicy Senegalese dish. Chef Serigne crafts his with redfish, mustard greens, and butternut squash. The final course: Jerejef, or “thank you” in Wolof, is a Thiakry pie, sweetened millet couscous that becomes even more delicious with ataya ice cream and mint.
Serigne Mbaye was born in the United States but lived in Senegal for most of his youth. Learning to cook from his mother and while attending boarding school in Senegal, he was drawn to the kitchen environment and returned to the U.S for culinary school. Following graduation, he gained experience from the three Michelin Star Atelier Crenn in San Francisco and the two Michelin Star L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in New York. On a chance encounter, he received an opportunity to work at Commander’s Palace and made his way to New Orleans, where he found strong connections between the foods of Senegal and New Orleans. “My goal as a chef is to find myself through the pursuit of Senegalese cuisine and to share my observances with the world,” said Mbaye. “Dakar NOLA is a bridge for me between the people of Senegal and New Orleans.” For the past several years, Chef Serigne served his changing menu of Senegalese food at pop-ups throughout New Orleans, including Mosquito Supper Club while serving as their Chef de Cusine and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Chef Serigne was named Eater NOLA’s Chef of the Year in 2021 and received a nomination from the James Beard Foundation for Best Emerging Chef in 2022.