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Chef Eric Adjepong Puts Ghanaian Decor on the Map

MILAN — When Chef Eric Adjepong discussed the building blocks of his first home collection, he slipped and said he used Ghanaian ingredients to make his first home goods collection with Crate & Barrel.

“I meant materials — Ghanaian materials,” he exclaimed a second afterward.

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Indeed, switching hats from the head of the kitchen to the head of design was a big change, but a welcome one. “I like the idea that these items can last forever,” as opposed to his eclectic dishes that last seconds on the palate, he said.

The 36-year-old chef and host of Food Network’s “Wildcard Kitchen” decided to return to his parents’ homeland to build this collection. “It was more than a homecoming — it was a discovery,” the first generation Ghanaian American said.

Upon arrival in the village of Bolgatanga, he was greeted by a mini parade with music, dance and food. It was there where he came into contact with the region’s basket weavers, who showed him the entire process of Bolga basket weaving.

Bolgatanga, which is situated in northern Ghana, is a heartland of genuine Bolga baskets, which are exclusively woven by the Indigenous Gurune or Frafra people. Weavers collect beta vera straw, which is subtracted from the top of the grass, and they then leave the roots to grow.

Other products in this vibrant collection were inspired by the Ashanti Empire, which was founded in 1670 and impacted much of the modern culture of the dynamic region.

Chef Eric Adjepong
Chef Eric Adjepong with basket weavers from Bolgatanga, Ghana.

With more than 60 pieces of cookware, glassware, serveware and decor, the collection includes a Ghanaian-made market tote; the Didi Ketoa appetizer plates inspired by West African bead work; the Sobolo glass punch bowl with a green marble base, and the Akan-inspired Nkwanta Hammered Brass Punch Ladle, also indicative of the region’s artisan traditions.

The first of his family to be born in the U.S. from Ghanaian parents, Adjepong said growing up in New York City made him bold and that growing up around Albanian, Puerto Rican, Jewish, Italian, West African and Caribbean cultures greatly influenced his cooking style. Still, he’s been drawn to Ghana and travels there at least four times a year. Accra, a booming cultural hub for Afro Beats, art and fashion, is also a burgeoning pulse for both the kitchen and the design worlds, he said.

Crate & Barrel and Crate & Kids senior vice president of product design Sebastian Brauer said when contemplating new partnerships, the firm has an eye out in “special corners of the world” on what’s resonating with communities and audiences beyond just the design world, from cooking to music, technology and fashion on an international scale.

“When chef Eric’s team approached us, we saw a powerful opportunity to bring his first kitchen line to life. We worked intimately with him to celebrate his West African heritage and multicultural New York City roots and combined that with his talent as a chef with Crate & Barrel’s timeless and global design approach, to create functional pieces…,” he said.

A rising star in U.S. television, Adjepong is known for his success in bringing West African cuisine into the mainstream culinary conversation. Following experiences in several Michelin-starred restaurants, he entered the “Top Chef” circuit and was featured as a finalist on season 16. On Food Network, he has made appearances on “Selena + Chef,” “Chopped,” “Guy’s Grocery Games,” “Supermarket Stakeout” and “Tournament of Champions.” He also has a degree in culinary arts and nutrition from Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island and a masters degree in public health in international public health and nutrition from the University of Westminster in London. On Wednesday he became the Save the Children’s newest global ambassador, joining fellow celebrities Jennifer Garner, Camila Cabello and Dakota Fanning.

Eric Adjepong for Crate & Barrel’s exclusive collaboration will be available in-stores and online at Crate & Barrel from Thursday.

Crate & Barrel’s fashion-forward sister brand CB2 is also reaching further afield, scouting designers and collaborations with compelling storytelling. Last month its Black in Design Collective launched by artist and designer Evan Jerry, added leading Niamey, Niger-based architect Mariam Issoufou Kamara and Lagos-based designer Nifemi Marcus-Bello to its roster.

Eric Adjepong Crate and Barrel
Eric Adjepong for Crate & Barrel

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