What's Cooking in Urban Africa? A Michelin star chef travels through Africa's slums on a quest for cooking wisdom.

Toxic smoke of household cooking with charcoal or paraffin kills 4.3 million people every year -- more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined -- and primarily affects women and children.

These risks are highest in the sprawling slums and informal settlements of the developing world, where space for outdoor cooking is limited, incomes are low and clean fuel is expensive, and awareness for the risks and costs of unclean cooking are low. Here, indoor air pollution risks are coupled with the grave risk of fires that frequently destroy lives and livelihoods.

SDI's clean cooking initiative - providing clean, safe, affordable cookstoves to slum dweller communities - improves public health in slum communities and adds to incremental upgrading efforts. This is a valuable intermediary solution for the poorest households - especially women and children.

SDI's bottom-up, slum dweller led efforts improve public health, environmental well-being, economic livelihoods, and reduce disaster risk.

To raise awareness for clean cooking, SDI's co-founder Joel Bolnick has taken to the road, traveling across Southern and East Africa with Michelin Star chef Alan Wise, Clean Cooking Revolution, and Twins on Tour to connect with communities and produce a series of cooking competitions in slums and a cookbook featuring the winning recipes captured on the road.

During their travels, this team will capture the stories of women cooking in the slums of Africa. They will capture their lives, their homes and cooking conditions, and the effect indoor cooking has had on their families. They will capture their communities, where they do their shopping and who their neighbours are and, of course, they will capture the food - with images and recipes that will allow readers to replicate the flavours and the feeling in their own homes.

Chef Alan Wise grew up in a small Australian country town. After high school, Alan knew there was more to see in this world. He took off through Thailand and Vietnam before settling in the UK, beginning his career with entry-level jobs in London kitchens. Alan got his first taste of Michelin Star cooking in Dublin, Ireland. He returned to Australia briefly, but couldn't stop dreaming of his Michelin Star experience. It wasn't long before he decided to head for the bright lights of New York City in pursuit of this dream. Alan spent the next few years as sous chef at a number of New York's notable restaurants before becoming Executive Chef and earning his very own Michelin Star in his first year eligible. With decades in the kitchen behind him and his lifetime dream accomplished, Alan made the choice to leave New York in search of new culinary adventures and wisdom. It was at this crossroads that Alan met his perfect match - SDI.

Clean Cooking Revolution is an impact driven, social venture, that aims to improve lives in townships in multiple ways. We are committed to our sustainable win-win-win business model, that makes the distribution of the clean cookstoves and the necessary fuel, easy and cost-effective. Our mission is to kill the ‘killer in the kitchen’, with over 4 million casualties world wide. Proceeds made from selling our stoves and the fuel at competitive prices are used to make them available to off-grid communities at an affordable rate. In addition, earnings support NGO’s to create sustainable income streams. We believe that the combination of business and aid is the best way to generate positive impact, and we have committed ourselves to harnessing the power of business for social good. Offering solutions for the 1 billion people who are in need of clean cookstoves, our products help make families self-sufficient, sustainable, healthy, and safe. Solutions that fulfil basic needs, work properly, and keep on working.

Motivated by a belief that the world’s wealthy minority (themselves included) misunderstands the majority who live in poverty, Morgan and Gabriel of Twins on Tour decided to piggy-back on the upcoming visits of one of SDI’s co-founders, Joel Bolnick, to SDI’s African affiliates to document the lives, tell the stories of, and get to know youth living in Africa’s slums through interviews, photos, and daily vlogs on their Instagram and Facebook pages.

“Born in Zimbabwe, I have always felt a deep connection with Africa. I want to use this opportunity to learn from this continent and other young people – to open space for the talents and creativity of all kids to shine and get the light we all deserve.” – Morgan

“I understood from a very young age that I live a privileged life. Not only do I want to see how other people live, but I want to find a way to give back – to feel part of something bigger than me.” – Gabriel

The Twins hope that by changing the perceptions wealthy youth have of less privileged youth, and maybe even vice-versa, they can do their part to unify youth globally, irrespective of class, gender or race – making space for transformation and change.

Follow SDI on Facebook and Instagram to get updates from the road, including live videos from the cooking competitions as they happen!

Hope to see you there!

Pre-order your copy of the book to become part of the solution today.


Photos by James Tayler, SDI

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