Podcast: The Taste of Longing: A Nigerian Chef in Brooklyn Couldn’t Go Home, So She Cooked Her Way There

Yewande Komolafe makes a dessert of bouille (tapioca pudding) with coconut milk drizzled with Nigerian honey. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Yewande Komolafe came to the U.S. to pursue her dream of becoming a chef. But after an administrative error by the culinary school she attended, Yewande lost her student visa and her legal immigration status. Suddenly she was an undocumented immigrant, unable to leave the U.S. for fear that she would not be allowed to reenter. For almost 20 years one of the few ways Yewande could connect with her home country of Nigeria was through food.

Listen to Rachael Bongiorno’s story of how Yewande recreated the flavors of home in her Brooklyn kitchen, and ultimately was able to return to Nigeria.

The second the puree hit the oil, I remember that sound of the little balls of akara bobbing up and the smell of fried bean fritter…There’s nothing I know that I’ve eaten here that could transport me that far back.” Yewande Komolafe


Mango Soup topped with fresh herbs from Oko Farms Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Yewande Komolafe attended the 2017 Feet in 2 Worlds workshop on Telling Immigrant Food Stories.

Listen to our recent podcast, Saving Pearl River Mart, A Personal History of NYC’s Legendary Chinese Department Store

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, The Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.


AboutRachael Bongiorno
Rachael Bongiorno is a New York City based multimedia journalist and media educator from Melbourne, Australia. Her work has been broadcast on NPR, WNYC, ABC Australia’s Radio National, Deutsche Welle, Democracy Now!, SBS Australia, Free Speech Radio News (FSRN), and 3CR Radio. She holds a BA with postgraduate Honours from The University of Melbourne and an MA in media studies from The New School. Her stories and projects are available at www.rachaelbongiorno.com