Congolese chef shares heritage through cooking

Taste of Congo business owner Caroline Musitu is serving traditional family recipes to honor her rich African culture.

“It was my dream, since I was little, now it has become true,” said Musito.

Born and raised in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Musitu moved her family to South King County several years ago to escape the conflict and violence in her country. When she realized there were no Condolese restaurants in her new community, she opened Taste of Congo.

“Most people know Congo by war, war is the sad part but there is a good part, they are welcome people, they are kind and our food is delicious, and I want to share it the good part,” said Musitu.

Musitu started cooking when she was 10-years-old, helping her mother cater parties, weddings and large celebrations.

“In the food, my strength, my love, everything I give everything to make it, delicious meal” said Musitu.

Musitu launched her business in 2018 with the help of the nonprofit Global to Local’s Food Innovation Network. Since 2010, Global to Local has helped more than 12,000 people in underserved areas of South King County with a focus on improving public health through community empowerment. Food Innovation Network has helped launch 13 food businesses for women of color, immigrant and refugee chefs.

“I have seen people succeed, start their businesses, and do well and are happy,” said Food Innovation Network’s Njambi Gishuru.

Njambi Gishuru is the organization’s cultural outreach specialist. An entrepreneur originally from Kenya, Gishuru creates a safe space for these women, offering advice and connecting them to resources and partners to help them flourish.

“They have dreams and they have high expectations of themselves, but it is very challenging starting from the ground without a Njambi or someone else who will hold their hands and tell them you can do it,” said Gishuru.

In 2020, Food Innovation Network opened their Tukwila food hall, Spice Bridge. The food hall has a commercial kitchen, vendor stalls and a dining area. Spice Bridge provides an affordable space for chefs to fulfill their culinary dreams of sharing the rich flavors from their home country, an experience that brings cultures together.

“This is a way of us sharing our cultures, to open people’s minds and get to know each other and what interests we share,” said Gishuru.

The food hall is open during the pandemic for takeout. This program is being funded by grants and community donations. For more information, you can visit their website: https://foodinnovationnetwork.org/food-hall/

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