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Growing up, Mame Fatima Ndiaye’s mother worked long hours during the week. However, she always made sure to cook several meals every Sunday to make sure her children weren’t reliant on “outside food” – like fast food and takeaways – every weeknight.
“For her, it was important for us to continue having this experience of home-cooked meals,” Ndiaye said.
Ndiaye, a senior at Syracuse University who studies public relations and the founder and owner of Made by Mame, didn’t cook much growing up. She said her culinary journey started out of a dissatisfaction with SU’s existing dining options, which became repetitive for her after a while.
To combat this disgust, Ndiaye often visited a childhood friend, who also attended SU and was a year older than her, in her apartment on the south campus. Ndiaye said she would go there whenever her friend was cooking because of her deep appreciation for the value of a home-cooked meal. She then took the reins for herself.
“It was really in second grade that I got into cooking, so if I didn’t know how to cook something, I would FaceTime my mom and she would talk to me,” Ndiaye said. “Or if it wasn’t available, YouTube, TikTok, it’s all in our hands, so that’s when I really started using my resources.”
The senior’s dishes are made with traditional Senegalese spices, a reflection of Ndiaye’s family culture. The base usually includes garlic, bell peppers, Jumbo All Purpose Seasoning, and black pepper.
Ndiaye, who normally goes by Fatima, wanted to make sure her brand name highlighted her Senegalese heritage in the same way as her food, which is why she opted for ‘Made by Mame’.
Her attachment to her heritage has allowed Ndiaye to share dishes she grew up enjoying
his friends, including Cristy Sanchez, an SU accounting student and soror of Ndiaye. Sanchez thinks Ndiaye thoroughly appreciates the service associated with cooking.
“Fatima is a very genuine person, so I feel like just the fact that she’s able to open something up to her friends and be able to look after us is what replaces cooking real,” Sanchez said.
In 2019, Ndiaye participated in the African Students’ Union Jollof Wars, a head-to-head competition based on a historic point of contention for West African nations: which country makes the best Jollof rice. ? She ended up winning first place.
“It really started to make people say, ‘Oh, you should start cooking (and selling plates),'” Ndiaye said.
Although COVID-19 initially delayed his plans to achieve this, Ndiaye was able to make it a reality this semester. She had already created a logo from a previous short-lived skincare company, so she repurposed it and got to work.
Sanchez said their group of friends have been focused on ending their time on campus “in style” since their senior year, and she’s thrilled to see Ndiaye’s wishes and desires finally come to fruition.
“I’m just happy that other people can see how talented she is (in) the kitchen and I just hope that, you know, that word of mouth keeps going around and she’s able to… expand his business, and the profit just keeps growing,” Sanchez added.
SU students can fill out a Google form in the Instagram page biography at any time during the week and make a deposit to confirm their order. Pickup of orders takes place every Saturday.
League senior Gustavo Eumana said he had visited Ndiaye before when she was cooking in her apartment and was happy to support her business. Last week, he ordered stuffed chicken with mashed potatoes from Made by Mame, and he said he enjoyed the flavor and authenticity of the meal.
“Her cooking reminds me a lot of my mother’s cooking. (Ndiaye’s) from Harlem and I eat Harlem cop food (a lot) so it reminds me of Harlem food… like it tastes like someone in town who made it,” said Eumana.
This week, the star meal is tacos; customers can choose between chicken ($12), ground turkey ($12), or steak ($15) for their choice of meat. They can also add any amount of toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, or radishes for free. Sour cream, salsa verde, or guacamole — which costs $2 more — are available on the side.
Ndiaye said this week’s menu has been in high demand from friends and potential customers for some time. Eumana said he would likely order another plate this week, and Sanchez said Ndiaye’s tacos were one of his favorites. She called their group of friends “taco demons.”
Sanchez said it was important for those interested in the menu at Made by Mame to know that they are getting the whole package by supporting Ndiaye’s business.
“Potential customers get what they pay for (because) Fatima is very generous with her portions. And I feel like it’s always important to buy from someone who is eager to do the service they provide,” Sanchez said. “For her, it’s not a question of money. It’s not about, you know, advertising. It’s because she absolutely wants to do it.
While it’s important to her to stay true to her heritage, Ndiaye wants to make it clear that she’s willing to take risks and branch out into more than just Senegalese and American fare.
“I’m going to try a lot of different things… it’s not going to be centered on one region. I will try stuff from all over the world. And I just want people to try stuff with me.
Published on February 16, 2022 at 11:10 p.m.
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