LibPositives Spotlight Chauncy Yarngo
Chauncy Yarngo is a native Liberian chef based in San Francisco, California. Chauncy was born in Liberia and was introduced to cooking by his grandmother. As a young boy he visited her during school breaks in a little Kpelle village outside the capital city, Monrovia. There she taught him how to fish, grow rice, harvest bananas and yams, and how to make fufu—a traditional West African dish made of the tuber root, cassava.
In 2000 during Liberia’s civil war, Chef Chauncy fled Liberia to Ivory Coast where he joined his father. They later moved to a small suburb just outside of Washington, D.C., in Virginia. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of Virginia in 2007, he left his family behind in search of a fresh beginning. Things weren’t too easy during this time, which caused him to bounce around from city to city, but eventually led him to work on a cruise ship. However, this didn’t last for too long. After a few months in 2014, Chef Chauncy found himself in San Fransisco working as a breakfast chef at Facebook, where he truly found passion in cooking and practicing healthful eating.
Today, Chef Chauncy only uses fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables to cook at his restaurant in San Francisco, and he tries his best to stay away from anything processed. He has also found ways to transform Liberian dishes and make them more healthful. For example, instead of cooking everything together in one pot, he cooks everything in separate pots to maintain the taste and integrity of the ingredients. He also finds ways to make meals less starchy and overcooked as many Liberians tend to do.
Although Chef Chauncy hasn’t visited Liberia since he was a child, his plan is to change the culture around Liberian food by taking what he has learned over the years—nutrition, healthful eating, and culinary arts—back to Liberia.