Despite the name, it is no fluke that one of Canada’s top chefs and a Naramata Bench winery connected.
Serendipity winemaker Judy Kingston and Chef Victor Bongo are teaming up for a new restaurant experience in the Okanagan. Bongo’s Bistro at Serendipity Winery will mark the second seasonal pop-up venture the talented chef will bring to the Naramata Bench.
“If I could hire an army of cooks, I would probably take over the whole Okanagan. I really would because I believe that we make the best wine in the country and now I want that to be the same for food,” said Bongo, who is a three-time gold award-winning chef, author and president of Bongo Brands. “When I came here in 2007, it was a wake-up call that we chefs need to step up our game too. I’m not here to compete, I am here so we all work together and then we all succeed. The more amazing restaurants there are, the more attraction it is for people to come here.”
Having already worked together for Bongo’s signature wine, the chef knew he wanted to team up with Kingston again — this time to create dishes that evolve from his African roots and classical French training.
Bongo’s Bistro uses the chef’s experience from travelling the world to inspire the cuisine he will serve in a more formal setting than his first pop-up restaurant, Village Grounds Bongo’s Barbecue, which serves up a choice of his specialty barbecue sauces and pasta with flavours from around the globe.
“At the bistro it will be more elegant to go with their wine. This location allows me to control my spice level and bring it a little bit down,” said Bongo. “It’s about the perfect flavour to pair with the perfect wine.”
Bongo’s Bistro at Serendipity Winery, which also serves up his world-famous African peanut soup, is now open and will feature live jazz nights, buffet dinner and movie, chef and winemaker dinners, Bongo’s Party in White and more events.
Bongo’s Barbecue, in the heart of Naramata, is currently open for lunch, and will open for dinner starting June 1 until the end of September.
As if he isn’t busy enough, Bongo partnered with Westin Hotels in 2015 to create the kids’ menu in their 200 locations, he continues to work with Super Chefs of the Universe (a program that teaches kids how to cook, where food comes from and nutrition), he launched his own label of wines and opened Ambrosia Restaurant and Lounge in 2017.
So what is the next thing Chef Bongo will tackle?
“I want to create a cookbook for kids, by kids. I even want the kids to take the photography for it too. That is a long dream of mine to make that happen. Then my fourth book will be the documentary of Chef Bongo. I really want to explain my story of immigrating from wartorn Congo to Canada and not having any money or being able to speak English. I want to inspire young people and tell them how to get their start,” he said.
He also has plans for Bongo’s Last Supper, a five to seven course long table dinner offered four times a year. This will be a culinary experience for random people to get together for an evening with Bongo and, on occasion, some of his celebrity chef friends.
To report a typo, email: email@example.com.