Alkebulan, the original name for Africa, is the first-of-its-kind food hall and features ten chef-led concepts from across the African continent, allowing diners to savour a delicious odyssey of flavours and experiences, from gourmet dishes and street bites to fusion fare, all in one destination.
Curated by former opera singer-turned-chef restauranteur, Alexander Smalls, and officially launched in collaboration with TGP International at EXPO 2020 Dubai earlier this year, Alkebulan is a celebration of African cuisine, art and music with an initial focus on culinary hotspots, London and New York.
Speaking on the expansion plans, Chef Alexander Smalls, Award Winning Chef and Creator of Alkebulan, said: “Despite its rich culinary heritage, African cuisine has been overlooked and underestimated for many years. With Alkebulan, we look forward to bringing its diverse and spectacular culinary palates to the forefront by introducing a unique dining concept to two of the world’s most thriving food destinations. We aim to not only deliver a taste of Africa but offer a one stop destination that becomes a boiling pot of the various African cultures at the core of its 54 countries and offer opportunities to young culinary entrepreneurs from under privileged backgrounds. We want to provide them space in the food halls to start their own businesses as part of an incubator program, providing support through coaching and mentoring as well as financially.”
Simon Wright, Founder and Chairman at TGP International, added: “Due to our vast experience within the hospitality sector, we see the huge potential for African cuisine and are immensely proud to pave the way with the ‘World’s First African Dining Hall’. With the concept performing so well in Dubai, it is evident that Alkebulan offers an incredible investment opportunity with unsurpassed potential. We see London and New York as the perfect markets to expand, putting Alkebulan on the map as a globally renowned destination for African cuisine. This is not just a dining destination but a community project that supports upcoming African talent and provides a platform for Africa’s next generation of creators. Not just in the kitchen.”
Dubbed as ‘the last untapped cuisine’ the demand for African cuisine on the rise and Alkebulan’s entry into the market is seamlessly timed to deliver a singular and novel dining solution, offering a host of African-inspired culinary and cultural experiences. The concept orbits around setting the table for Africa’s next generation of creators. Not just in the kitchen but on the stage, in the community, and the forefront of the most important social movements. Alkebulan serves as a catalyst for cultural progression in every form, inspiring diverse culinary voices. Part of the food hall’s larger mission is to provide new platforms for African chefs, who are wildly underrepresented in the industry, and create opportunities to help them thrive.
With the demand for food halls across the world rising, owing to its lower rent model, among other cost-efficient benefits, food halls experienced a pre-covid boom and were largely able to sustain operations during the pandemic. Post-pandemic, the food hall model remains an attractive option as more restaurant brands tap into the vast potential to offer a new dynamic culinary experience, penned as the “ultimate champion of choice”. The projected growth opportunities for food-to-go prepared at food halls are set to reach a value of £22.6bn by 2024, a 47.7% increase from 2021.
These changes in food culture alongside an increasing demand for unique dining concepts presents a gap in the market perfectly suited for Alkebulan. As the world’s first African dining hall, Alkebulan offers a unique take on the food hall model by offering an immersive cultural experience for customers, showcasing local art, live music and retail uniquely sourced from the worlds ‘Mother Continent’.