Lunch Around the World with Isatou Dampha

Katey GorskiWhole Foods Market Stores

Written by Sara Szunyogh, Culinary Demo Specialist, Columbus Circle, NY, NY

In celebration of the Whole Planet Foundation fundraising campaign and to honor the diversity of the Team Members at Whole Foods Market Columbus Circle we wanted to offer lunch featuring flavors from around the world to our customers. This event was hosted in our café, highlighting a different country each week. Our initial lunch was a great success and featured Chef Isatou Dampha, our Prepared Foods Supervisor from Gambia, W. Africa.

Isatou grew up in Gambia, learning to cook her native dishes, carrying down culinary traditions taught by her mother. Before coming to New York City in 2002 Isatou worked for a rural women’s development group in Gambia, applying the same empowerment principles as Whole Planet Foundation. She acted as the woman’s program supervisor, overseeing employment projects like soap and lotion making. After coming to the United States and starting her career with Whole Foods Market, she went through the Chef Apprentice Program and was quickly promoted to Supervisor.

For our premiere Lunch Around the World, Chef Isatou prepared Boiled Yucca with Sautéed Onions and Smashed Black Eyed Peas, Cheb – which is African Fried Rice with Beef and Peanut Butter Soup with Chicken, which is considered the national dish of Gambia.   When Isatou was asked how she felt about being the lead chef for the Whole Planet Foundation fundraising event, she said “I felt very excited to contribute because I knew I was helping people just like me.” When asked how it felt to prepare these national dishes for our customers she replied “It reminds me of home and how we’d sit around a huge pot and share.”

Chef Isatou’s culinary contribution to Whole Planet Foundation was greatly appreciated and we look forward to working with her again for this year’s campaign!

Peanut Butter Chicken Stew

By Isatou Dampha

Serves 8


16 Chicken pieces, skinless, bone in or out

½ cup Peanut oil

2 cups Onion, diced

½ cup Tomato paste

1 cup Creamy peanut butter

4 cups Fresh roma tomatoes, diced

3 quarts Stock (chicken or vegetable)


Season chicken with salt and pepper on all sides and set aside.

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat, add oil and sweat onions until translucent.   Add tomato paste, tomatoes and peanut butter, stirring to combine. When sauce is smooth add the chicken and broth.

Cover pot and bring to a boil, then remove lid, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is done, about 30-45 minutes.

Sauce should be nice and thick, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with white rice.