Grammy winning singer Angélique Kidjo brought her musical and culinary talents to Croft Alley at The Standard in Hollywood last week for an intimate dinner and concert to raise funds for her Batonga Foundation.
Dubbed by Time magazine as “Africa’s premiere diva,” Kidjo spent the day in the Standard’s kitchen whipping together a multi-course meal for about 50 guests, including her famous Scotch bonnet hot sauce that is so insanely potent it can only be consumed in microscopic portions.
Using her mother’s recipes from the West African nation of Benin, main dishes included cashew chicken with jasmine rice and vegetarian couscous with tomato sauce, chickpeas, zucchini, cabbage and carrots. Baby lettuces and romaine with Kidjo’s homemade lemon vinaigrette were served on the side.
“I love to cook,” the three-time Grammy winner told L.A. Weekly as guests mingled and sipped icy Tambour lemonade cocktails made with Sodabi palm liquor from Benin and fresh squeezed lemon juice.
“My hot sauce is a little different, you see,” she explained. “They said they know hot sauce, but when they tasted mine back in the kitchen as we were cooking, their heads almost blew off. I puree Scotch bonnet peppers, garlic, onion, salt and olive oil together until your eyes water.”
Dessert was served in the club while the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience belted out four high-energy songs that had everybody dancing through the room.
Calories burned came from seven lactose-free and sugar-free salted caramel cakes that Kidjo baked, as well as a tropical fruit salad made from mango, jackfruit, pineapple, pears, guava, peaches and passion fruit.
The evening raised funds for Kidjo’s Botonga Foundation, which empowers young women and girls in West Africa to discover their limitless, untapped potential and transform it into social and economic power. Auction items included a dinner for six in either New York or Los Angeles prepared by the diva herself, which brought in $4,000.
The organization was founded in 2006 and targets the hardest-to-reach girls with education and skills in a safe space.
“I want to reach out to the worst of the worst in the villages nobody wants to go, where nobody cares,” Kidjo told the crowd. “We want to salvage those girls and give them a purpose in life.”