etroit has become experimental ground for pop-up dining, a wildly popular mode of eating out that allows chefs to cook for hungry crowds without owning and operating their own brick-and-mortar location. Because doing business can be costly-and getting the word out about pop-up experiences can be tricky-collaboration is key. That's where YumVillage comes in.
Chef Godwin Ihentuge runs YumVillage and helps fellow chefs with networking, business strategy and other resources. It's an innovative model for someone who had no intention on going into the food business.
"Growing up in our house, we always made sure we had good food to eat and something that was going to be good for us and nourish our minds and bodies," Ihentuge says. He ate well at home, but college was tougher. In 2002, his freshman year, Ihentuge began experimenting with food. A decade later, he was running a catering company.
"When I originally started, I was a pescatarian," he says-he skipped meat but still ate fish. Trying to find grub at Lions and Tigers games was a pain. His desire for healthy fast-food led to Ihentuge developing a nutritious menu with potato-skin tacos as his first specialty. "You think, 'How can I eat something for myself that won't kill me?'"
When it comes to Thanksgiving, however, almost everything is on the menu: turkey (always baked), different variations of mac and cheese, spiral sliced ham, pumpkin pie. "But we also have grilled salmon and a couple West African dishes, like jollof rice," he says.
For Ihentuge's family, Thanksgiving is a time for all of his relatives to "circle back" to one another, particularly since everyone has such busy schedules.
"It's very nostalgic to go back to those seeds sowed over the years," he says. "It gives us a chance to really identify with ourselves."
Couscous, Medley and Chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35-40 minutes/chicken, 15 minutes/couscous, five minutes/medley
Total time: 45-50 minutes/with chicken, 25 minutes/without
- 1 cup couscous
- 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (shred if possible)
- 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 ripe tomato, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- 6 chicken drumsticks or wings
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. pepper
- 1 Tbsp. rosemary
- 1 Tbsp. thyme
Couscous: Prepare couscous according to package directions or boil in hot water with the 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Medley: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the garlic, mango and jalapeño; sauté until the mango begins to color lightly. Stir in remaining oil, dried cranberries, tomato, lime juice, cilantro and parsley; toss to heat through. Season to taste with salt. Lay over couscous.
Chicken: Mix all ingredients in a re-sealable bag and let set for a few hours (so chicken marinates in oil and herbs). Set oven to 375 F. Bake for 40 minutes. Lay chicken alongside couscous/medley.