A bead of sweat trickled down Michelle Boyomo’s face as she stood over a smoking grill and cooked tilapia into a staple known in Cameroon as poisson braissee (braised fish).
Meanwhile, outside the bustling kitchen at Chez Michelle Restaurant, a DJ played makossa, a music style that has gained fans across Africa with its related dance craze called bikutsi.
Dozens of patrons ate from a panoply of African cuisine, ranging from pork ribs, to roasted drum, African pepper soup, okra gumbo and oxtail pepper soup.
It’s all in a day’s work at Chez Michelle Restaurant at 6991 S. Texas 6, which began in 2009 with Michele preparing food in the family’s garage. The business moved to its current location on Highway 6 in 2017.
As the smoke wafted from the Boyomo garage, folks just couldn’t get enough of the roasted talipia and soya, a spicy, marinated skewered meat that originated with the Hausa people of West Africa.
The decison to open the namesake Chez Michelle Restaurant with her husband Jean Leon Boyomo was a no-brainer. Just ask Joseph Song, Michelle’s cousin, who stopped by for a visit and good food.
“Cameroon is well known for roasted fish,” said Song, a senior engineer at Shell USA, Inc. “They were so good from the garage that people started hearing about them. They started with fish and soya and it was so good that it helped to build the foundation of the business.”
Indeed, people come from far and wide to Chez Michelle. Daniel Ndengue and his wife Adele drove down from Dallas to visit their new favorite haunt.
“We came down for a family event and this is the second time we’ve been here,” Daniel said. It’s important to learn about African food because the main idea many people have about Africa is negative. I believe that sitting at an African table with an African meal, people will learn more about Africa.”
Aubin Boyomo, the couple’s son, attributes Chez Michelle’s success to its down home atmosphere and delicious cuisine: “The consistency of the food, the dedication that they have in the kitchen and the compassion that my parents share with their customers, that’s the reason why we have customers that still come to this day since the garage days in 2009.”
Chez Michelle Restaurant
6991 South Texas 6
— by Robert Stanton