Ghanaian stars collide as singer Becca chats with Chef Fred Apaloo
The renowned entertainer Rebecca "Becca" Acheampong asks the acclaimed culinary entrepreneur a series of Priceless Questions as he prepares a gourmet recipe. Tune in to hear his inspirations as a chef, his favorite local ingredient, and the secrets to perfect pasta.
Two of Ghana's brightest stars got together for wide-ranging conversation on food, culture, and life as singer, songwriter, and actress Rebecca Akosua Acheampomaa Acheampong welcomed chef Fred Apaloo to Mastercard Priceless Questions.
Becca, as she's known to fans, first rose to fame as a contestant on one of the country's most popular singing competitions, TV3's Mentor. Over her career, she's released multiple award-winning albums while also taking on important humanitarian issues. Becca established a rescue organization to raise funds for children affected by HIV/AIDS, and in 2014, she became a Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS.
Apaloo, meanwhile, is one of the country's most noted culinary entrepreneurs. As the CEO of Villa Grace, a boutique catering company, he crafts exquisite dining experiences for both Ghanaian and international clients. A strong proponent of experiential dining, his Genesis Brunch, Champagne and Candy Canes holiday special, and Prêt a Manger GRACE have set a new standard for food and atmosphere.
While Becca asked Apaloo a series of questions submitted by Mastercard cardholders, the chef demonstrated the preparation of one of his favorite dishes: lobster, basil, and tomato pasta.
Inspiration was an important theme for both presenters.
"I'm inspired by the things around me, the places I go, and the things I see," Apaloo said. "I listen to the client's inspiration, add my own twist to it, and try to make sure I'm giving them something mind-blowing."
That inspiration means highlighting flavors like kpakoshito, a local chili, that are making Ghana a culinary destination.
"I think that Ghana is well on its way to being a culinary hotspot because we have a lot of good local talent who are now trying to understand what we have in our soil," Apaloo said. "People are more interested in understanding farm-to-table, where our food is coming from, and what we have."
The conversation continued as the chef got the rest of the ingredients simmering—from the rich chunks of lobster and chopped and tomato to plenty of locally grown basil—that made up a steaming pot of "Italian-meets-Ghanian cuisine." The global appeal of Apaloo's recipes inspired plenty of submitted questions. One aspiring chef wanted to know what flavors complement pancakes, and whether they can be made into a healthy snack.
"Pancakes are made differently everywhere—a Ghanaian pancake is very thin, almost like a crepe" explained Apaloo. "I sometimes make blinis for canapes and hors d' oeuvres. I serve them with smoked salmon, and I make a sauce with fresh yogurt, olive oil, dill, and a bit of paprika."
When it was time to incorporate the pasta, Apaloo offered an important tip to get your noodles just right: precooking penne pasta to "a little under al dente" so it can finish cooking in your delicious sauce of choice.
As the finishing touches were made, Becca shared a final question for Apaloo: how are you able to maintain your famously high standards?
"Quality and attention to detail are two things I cannot compromise on, so marrying those with skills and talent will give you a final product that's quite good," Apaloo answered. "Sourcing the right ingredients—farm-to-table when we can, bringing in premium ingredients when we must—gives us a head start."
Watch the full conversation and cook along with the ingredients below, and discover more exciting culinary experiences at priceless.com.
Ingredients for lobster, basil, and tomato pasta:
- Lobster tails
- Fresh basil
- Fresh parsley
- Kpakoshito or other hot peppers
- Fresh cooking cream
- All-purpose seasoning
- Brown sugar
- Olive oil
- Penne pasta