The Press

Welcome Chef MaMusu's Press Page. All articles here have been published in several editorials. Please read and enjoy. Thank You!

Encourage Others

Hi, My name is Chef MaMuSu and I would like to personally thank each and everyone of you that joined this cause. Today I am challenging you to tell others about this cause.We are taking young girls ages 11-16 and not only teaching them how to cook. Also they are learning the fundamentals of woman hood. It is time to give back to our young girls. Teach them about who they are and be a great encouragement to them. These kids need the attention and what better way than the school. We are looking for donations through face book, but you can always write a check and mail it to 200 East Main Street Richmond,Va 23219. All people who donates will receive a receipt for tax purposes. Thank you and be blessed!!!
Date of Posting: 30 May 2009
Posted By: Causes
Class Crosses Cultures

At Ma-Musu's, students learn cooking basics from generations past. As a girl growing up in Liberia, Ida Ma-Musu learned the art of cooking from her grandmother, Ida Bernice Williams. Before departing her war-torn country for Richmond in 1980, she sat at her grandmother's bedside. "She said, 'This is the end for me,' " Ma-Musu recalled. " 'I will never see you again. But I want you to promise me that everything I taught you, you will teach it. If you want me to live forever, pass it on.'" And so she has. Her third 10-week cooking class, "The Fundamentals of Womanhood" for girls ages 11 to 15, began earlier this week at Chef Ma-Musu's Africanne on Main, at 200 E. Main St.

The program starts with cooking concepts and ends with students whipping up four-course meals. Richmond's Department of Recreation & Parks and Camp Diva, an after-school program, sponsored students for the previous class. The girls meet on Tuesday evenings to learn about herbs and spices, how to set a table, how to cut poultry and prepare some of Ma-Musu's signature dishes such as spicy collard greens and roasted jerk chicken. Some unexpected lessons surfaced during the last class, which graduated Dec. 21.

Clad in her coat on a chilly fall evening, Bianca Johnson, 17, hunched at a table with her head in her hands. She felt an asthma attack coming on and wanted to leave. Ma-Musu fixed warm ginger tea and told her to drink it. After a minute passed, Bianca removed her jacket and decided to stay. "I feel better," she said to a few classmates stunned by her quick recovery. That night the class also learned that ginger can help digestion and that cloves eliminate bad breath. They also picked up tips on how to soothe menstrual cramps while being reminded to sit at the table like young ladies. "Because cooking is my passion, I want to teach everyone," said Ma-Musu, who recently began making and selling a popular tea from plantain leaves.

Sponsors are needed to help pay tuition for underprivileged students who want to attend the next class, which starts April 1. Ma-Musu doesn't charge for teaching or the meals she provides before each class. Donations would cover the use of the restaurant, cooking materials, field trips and the graduation family dinner, where each student can invite 10 guests. Students practice cooking on a cast iron stove by squeezing in a few at a time inside the restaurant's tiny 6-by-10-foot kitchen. For future classes Ma-Musu would like more cookware and the use of a full-service kitchen to accommodate 20 girls so everyone can learn together.

Graduates credit Ma-Musu for giving them confidence, independence and possibility. Some students are now considering culinary careers. "Cooks follow the recipe, but chefs aren't afraid to add a little personality to the dish," said Rayonna Gordon, 11. "She has brought us out of our shells." Amina Woods said her daughter Hannah Martin, 11, has a new enthusiasm for cooking. "She was not cooking before. If it didn't come in a box and have 'Lunchable' written on it," she wasn't interested, she said with laughter. Orvella McWilliams of Mechanicsville praised Ma-Musu for making a difference for her daughter, Daisha, 14. "The skills she's taught them are the things they will take with them for the rest of their lives. It's a wonderful program," said McWilliams. She and other mothers listened in while waiting for their daughters. That prompted Ma-Musu to add a class "Fundamentals to Domestic Womanhood" for adults, beginning March 1. Seven of the 15 girls in the second class graduated at a program at the nearby Red Cross building last month. Some girls were asked to leave because of misbehavior while others dropped out.

Ma-Musu personally gave each girl, clad in a white chef apron and hat, a 38-piece cookware set as a graduation gift. About 76 guests were treated to the graduates' meals. The previous day the girls cut up, seasoned and cooked 65 chickens, 50 pounds of cabbage and 20 pounds of onions. Ma-Musu told the gathering about her grandmother's wish that she share what she had been taught.

"I've been in Richmond 27 years. I'm part of the community and I want to give back," said Ma-Musu, who as her grandmother, lives on in another generation.
Date of Posting: 11 January 2008
Posted By: Richmond Times-Dispatch Staff

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