My name is Akoube Mouss, I’m a head pastry chef at London in a corporation called PwC, and I’m the private head pastry chef for the company’s president.
What was your career path?
I’m a basketball player, so I started with basketball and pastries. As a ball fan, I had to choose between sport and pastries. I began my studies in a small village in the South of France, then I went to a mentoring school, where I had the opportunity to travel all over France. I finally deepened my knowledge in Paris. My professional experience brought me to work in big restaurants and palaces, as well as in Michelin star restaurants. It was a very enriching experience. After this, I wanted to travel. I was supposed to go to the US, but England called me first. I started working at the Ritz in London, where many celebrities and politicians meet. The royal family eats there once a year too. After my Ritz years, I was proposed to work in Buckingham Palace where I didn’t stay long. I went on working for big palaces and star restaurants.
What do you like most about pastries?
I can create my own cakes while staying in the domain of Afro and French pastries. Thanks to this basis and being head pastry chef and team supervisor, I try to use products from the African continent for my creations whenever I can.
How do you manage to associate your African roots with a Western style of cooking?
I play with words. Instead of saying a bissap sorbet, I will say a hibiscus flower sorbet. The key is to get terminologies in which people can find themselves, terminologies they can easily assimilate.
What was your parents’ reaction when you started with pastries?
My mother was cool, my father was a bit more reluctant because he didn’t expect I wanted to be a pastry cook. He saw me in an office or in the administration instead. We know that in the African mentality, people don’t like when boys get in the kitchen when women are cooking. Personally, I have always been attracted to cooking, people who cook, people talking, smells, flavors. I have always been curious. It was either this or basketball, but if I get injured while playing basketball…Game over, so I chose pastries and they’re my passion.
Do you imagine yourself coming back to Africa in the next few years? Do you wish to convey your know-how in Africa? Do you have plans for Africa?
For the African continent, my projects would be to open training schools and cake shops too. Sharing my knowledge and my experiences, in France and England, and mostly tell them that they don’t need to go to Europe to learn pastries. You can do it at home. I really want to create jobs.
In your career path, did you meet obstacles or difficulties because of your skin color?
You must go beyond that. We know we will have to work more. I think these are challenges, but if you are focused, if you know what you’re doing, do it and move on.
Since you began your career, what was your favorite moment?
Being a head pastry chef. Being responsible for a team and transmitting the knowledge I learned to others.
What can we expect from Mouss in the next 2-3 years?
I will see where life leads me. I have many projects. I would really like to meet other pastry colleagues, in Africa or elsewhere, the United States, Canada, and discover other horizons, other destinations. Also, I would enjoy promoting African products because there is more than just bananas.
What is your message for the youth, especially for the aspiring pastry chefs?
Don’t let go of anything and if you want to learn how to make pastries, be patient. Do not feel like you are in a hurry, learn, listen, get experience, move on and never belittle others. Someone will always be better than you, so be humble. You should always respect your fellow man.