Crescendo Foods: Dr. Wanida Lewis Pioneers Ghana's Culinary Hub, Fusing Food Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Unlock the world of food entrepreneurship with Dr. Wanida Lewis and Crescendo Foods—a Ghanaian culinary hub offering immersive experiences and training for aspiring chefs.

Crescendo Foods: Dr. Wanida Lewis Pioneers Ghana's Culinary Hub, Fusing Food Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Photo Cred: Dr. Wanida Lewis

Pioneering Crescendo Foods, Ghana's first food incubation hub

Dr. Wanida Lewis, founder of Crescendo Foods, created Ghana’s first shared kitchen hub in Accra. By offering immersive virtual cooking experiences and training courses for chefs starting their food businesses, Crescendo Foods has become a hub representing Ghana’s culinary history and talent.

While her love for food innovation is evident from her extensive professional experience, Dr. Lewis’ cooking days began later in life. While growing up in a family of bakers and cooks, her family was surprised she found a home in the food industry. Self-described as a picky eater, she found food textures and flavors an experimental experience growing up. Later in life, these traits pointed her toward becoming a scientist – eager to learn more and innovate.

Growing up, my mom said I used to emulate my grandfather's way of eating, in which I'd smack my mouth open and close. That was how I determined if something was good or not. Later, I learned that the process was the same at a taste panel part of my degree process in school.

From Food Science to the Department of State

With her Ph.D. in Food Science from North Carolina State University and 10+ years of experience within the food industry, Dr. Lewis applied her Senior Economic Program Advisor expertise to the Global Women’s Issues office in the Department of State. She developed strategic partnerships throughout West Africa and the U.S. as part of an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellowship. 

With my Ph.D. in food science, my understanding of food is more on the book-smart side of the industry. I went to school to become a pediatric neurosurgeon, but my first project tested using muscadine grape pomace and putting it into pork sausage. When I came home for the summer, my family was uninterested in trying that experiment.

From developing the icing on toaster strudel to testing out product innovation, Dr. Wanida Lewis found herself deeply understanding food production from an industry level. By opening Crescendo Foods in 2021, Dr. Lewis wanted to encourage the next generation of food innovators to come from Ghana. 

In the food industry, I contributed to many improvements and did a lot of innovation. Still, I knew I wanted to work in policy and agricultural policy, particularly with women in agriculture. Working for the Department of State, I traveled six months out of the year before transitioning into the next venture, which was into the policy realm, and then ended up being in economics.

Developing Crescendo Foods

Dr. Wanida Lewis found a gap in the incubator market at Crescendo Foods. Finding many entrepreneurship hubs in the area, she found these centers focus more on the business side of startups, such as business management, funding, and accounting. In Crescendo Foods, she brings leadership into food entrepreneurship, explicitly answering questions about food packaging, marketing food strategies, and a shared kitchen space.

Renovating a three-bedroom house and turning it into a shared kitchen space, Crescendo Foods has become a co-working space for professionals in the food scene. Getting down to the nitty-gritty of questions like, “Why and how does food packaging impact branding?” Through training, they teach new startup owners how to brand themselves within the tight market and provide an open event space for burgeoning startups.                            

Ghanian Chef Britney Andoh teaches traditional and inspired Ghanian classics

Crescendo Foods works with Ghanaian Chef Britney Andoh, a host chef in Accra, Ghana. Within virtual lessons, Chef Britney teaches students how to create twists on traditional Ghanaian classics. Utilizing her culinary expertise and storytelling, she shares her history with each dish and provides a step-by-step, hands-on overview. In her courses, she teaches how to make main courses of Ghanaian Lamb Chops and Okro Stew and a Ghanaian dessert, plantain ice cream, and peanut brittle.

Dr. Lewis highlights local Ghanaian chefs and food innovators to spotlight traditional classics. By supporting their creative ventures, she develops a new generation of food innovators, like herself, to enter the market with the necessary skillsets and support. Utilizing her strategic planning from her time in the food industry and international policy, she hopes to bring local businesses to the global stage. 

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