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DR Congo Chief Reaches Stardom after Return to Roots

Racism and the financial meltdown kept Congolese mas­ter chef Christian Yumbi down and out in Belgium. Back at home, the gourmet innovator has finally won the stardom he fought for.

“I did my best (in Belgium): I studied, opened my own busi­ness, married a Belgian woman, and spoke Flemish. But despite all that, I always felt like a for­eigner there,” said Yumbi, who in 2014 won the pan-African television contest “Star Chef”.Because he drove a flashy car, Yumbi said he was frequently stopped by the Belgian police, “who would ask me whether I was a football player or a drug dealer”.

Despite his masters degree from the prestigious Ritz Es­coffier cooking school in Paris – which he financed by wash­ing dishes – none of his Bel­gian employers ever appointed him a top chef. “I was good, but it was practically impossible to become chef because I am black and African… Unsettled, frustrated and tired, I struggled to survive,” said Yumbi, 40.

Refusing to give up, the food lover took out a $20 000 loan in 2014 to open his first restaurant in Belgium, which he named “Re-Source”.

Yumbi was inspired by the so-called slow food movement that aims to preserve tradition­al cuisine and steer clear from fast food.

“It was like going back to the source, that’s where the name ‘Re-Source’ came from,” he beamed. Two years later, “Re-Source” earned a mention in the influential French res­taurant guide Gault & Millau, but the 2008 financial crisis hit

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