He also had a big dream: to bring the food of his country to Detroit. They participated in a local entrepreneurship event in 2017, and won a $50,000 prize to help the couple start their restaurant. He finally opened the doors to his airy restaurant, baobab fareEarly 2021 — at the outbreak of the pandemic.
The accolades have started. In February, the couple was nominated for the second time as semifinalists for Best Chef james beard awardAnd in March, Mr. Mamba won an episode of “sliced,” cooking competition on Food Network, and with it, $10,000. Now they’re donating that prize money Freedom House DetroitThe non-profit that helped Ms. Njimbere and other refugees like her escape persecution.
“The mamba is what you wish the rest of humanity is,” said Elizabeth Orozco-Vasquez, chief executive of Freedom House Detroit.
Growing up in Burundi, East Africa, Mr. Mamba, 42, learned to cook traditional regional flavors from his mother, who owned a restaurant. She taught him to cook with his senses, not just recipes, which gave him an advantage over “sliced” when faced with unfamiliar proteins like ostrich and scallops. But, he added that the culinary skills that he brought to the show cannot be compared to his wife’s talents.
“I’m not even the best cook, it’s Nadia,” he said.
However, Ms Njimbere, 41, does not enjoy the limelight and did not want to go on national television. Mr. Mamba nearly turned down the “chopped” producers, but decided to compete himself because he felt it was important to share his food and how two refugees became small-business owners.