While on a walk in 2010 around Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, Teverow saw a man cooking a whole animal on the sidewalk and had one overriding thought: I have to go talk to him.
It was Pierre Thiam, one of the world’s leading West African chefs.
“It was a lamb, and I was humiliated because I assumed it was a baby pig,” Teverow told Fortune. (A pig would not have passed muster in Senegal, Thiam’s birthplace, which is a predominantly Muslim country.)
The pair would occasionally cross paths after that initial meeting, and Teverow had ordered Thiam’s first cookbook: “Yolélé! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal.” (Yolélé is a Fulani expression used throughout West Africa that’s meant to be shouted in joy. It roughly translates to, “Let the good times roll!”)
But a partnership wasn’t born until Teverow read an article about Thiam’s dream: creating economic opportunity for West African farming communities by sharing their food with the world, including the ancient grain fonio, pronounced “phone-yo.”
Five years after their sidewalk meeting in 2010, the pair launched their company, aptly named Yolélé. “I had been making my living in the specialty food industry for 16 to 17 …