Interview With A Chef – Terrence Ofori-Darko
31st October 2023
Let’s delve into the world of pairing sparkling wine with food, an art practiced by Restaurants, Wineries and passionate Sparkling Wine lovers around the world, in this feature, we speak with a fantastic Chef from Germany by the name of Terrence Ofori-Darko, skilled in the art of creating dishes and pairing them with Champagnes and Sparkling Wines.
Tell Us About Yourself
“My name is Terrence Ofori-Darko and I moved together with my wife to Germany in 2020 to pursue a second bachelor’s degree. I am 35 years old and was born and raised in Ghana. I graduated from the University of Ghana with a bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology in 2012. I worked in my family’s furniture import company after receiving my first bachelor’s degree until 2015 when I made the decision to turn my lifelong passion for ‘cooking’ into a career.
I have been active in the gastronomy industry since 2015, studying everything there is to know, mostly since my long-term goal is to establish my own restaurant. Returning to my decision to relocate to Germany, I opted to obtain another degree in wine at Hochschule Geisenheim University to complement my cooking interests and my passion for wine and cuisine.
Let us skip the boring bit. I am a fun person. Cooking is my greatest love, and it is the only thing I can never get enough of (my wife shouts “what!?!”). Dancing is my sport, I am open-minded, I enjoy socializing, and I enjoy traveling to explore various parts of the world (although I hate going through visa bureaucracy…it is a wahala! as we would say in Ghana).”
Do You Remember Your First Experience with Sparkling Wine? When It Was and What Kind Of Wine It Was?
“I do recall my first time drinking sparkling wine, yes. These, though, weren’t alcoholic. Although I cannot recall the precise name or brand, I believe it was something more akin to Prosecco. The first time I tasted it was in Accra, the capital of Ghana, at a neighbor’s birthday celebration. My initial thoughts were that this was a good sparkling wine, extremely flowery, crisp with a balance of acidity, even though it was not alcoholic. I was curious to learn more about this specific beverage, sparkling wine.”
What Inspired You to Become a Chef?
“I was most definitely influenced by my mother, may her lovely soul rest in perfect peace. She gave me the drive to become who I am today. For each meal I prepare, I include both my own and my mother’s passion. I vividly recall how happy and smiling everyone was when they came to dine at her neighborhood chop bars (as we call local restaurants in Ghana).
Second, I am inspired by friends, family, and others who have yet to try my cooking. I believe I am gifted in the kitchen and put a lot of effort into producing a certain meal. I have received numerous compliments, including “It tastes like my mom’s cooking”. I personally believe this is the highest praise a chef could possibly receive from someone they barely know since food is after all comfort and sensory memories. This is what keeps me going.”
During Your Time as A Chef, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learned?
“One of the most shocking and intriguing things I have learned as a chef is that in the hotel gastronomy scene, some senior chefs are unwilling to teach you what they know, making it harder for a team to progress. Nonetheless, you must remain focused on your objectives and be as astute and agile as a cat. If not, you will be peeling potatoes for a long time. It is the unpleasant truth from my experience as a Ghanaian chef, however in one of my first cooking jobs in Accra, I was fortunate to have worked with a very humble executive chef, Lars Spannberg, who taught me a lot of cooking techniques.
In addition, I think cooking involves more than just preparing food; it involves a connection between the cuisine, culture, and customs of individuals. As I like to say, sharing is caring, and caring is showing concern for other people. Sharing also involves allowing others to experience your culture via food. For some shared recipes, follow me on instagram at @terrencetable.”
What Are Your Top 3 Food and Sparkling Wine Pairing Recommendations?
“A street dish (snack) named Kelewele would be my first suggestion for a sparkling wine pairing. It is deep-fried ripped plantain marinated with spices like ginger, onion, cloves and many more. Against custom in Ghana, I make it without chili so that it goes well with sparkling wine. It goes nicely together because it brings out the flavor of the spices and the acidity balances the sweetness of the plantains. This is a fantastic combination, that I could eat all day long.
Second, I suggest the dish eto, a traditional meal from Ghana with a lot of cultural meaning behind it. In my dialect, an earthenware bowl called an asanka is used to prepare this dish. It is cooked with spices and a mixture of ripe and unripe boiled plantains, roasted groundnuts, and hard-boiled eggs on top. In fact, mothers in Ghana make this dish for us to celebrate our birthdays rather than baking a cake. And as a kid for us, this was priceless.
Finally, I recommend a fonio salad. Fonio is one of the world’s healthiest ancient grains from the sub-region of West Africa. It is naturally gluten-free, delicious, and nutritious. In terms of appearance and texture, it resembles couscous with a slightly coarser texture. It’s a versatile grain that can be utilized in a variety of cuisines.
For example, I like to toss it for example with tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, basil, and semi-ripe mangoes and a lime vinaigrette dressing.”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed a Glass of Bubbly?
“My wedding reception in Copenhagen was the most memorable place I have ever had a glass of sparkling wine. It was the ideal setting, surrounded by friends and family. We served a lovely glass of bubbly from Weingut Georg Mueller Stiftung called ‘Katharina’ after the owner’s daughter. It is my wife’s favorite sparkling wine that I introduced her to when I was working there as an assistant to the winemaker Tim Lilienstroem. This sparkling wine has a delightful feel and a crisp taste that was ideal for our little spontaneous party on a summer’s day in Denmark. In the end, it was the way the sparkling wine complemented our love and pleasure that made our ceremony remarkable, not the sparkling wine itself.”
Thank you, Terrence, for sharing your words, knowledge and experience with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Terrence Ofori-Darko. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.