Roger Sherman Inn’s Owners Introduce Prominent New Executive Chef

The owners of the Roger Sherman Inn announced Monday that they’ve hired a West Africa native who has trained under prominent chefs both in the United States and abroad as their new executive chef.

Francois Kwaku-Dongo

Francois Kwaku-Dongo is a 2008 “Iron Chef” contestant and James Beard nominee who has been featured in Forbes magazine and elsewhere as an up-and-coming celebrity chef, according to information supplied by Nes and Joseph Jaffre.

“With this wonderful addition we’re positive that we’ll bring the Inn to it’s well deserved glory,” the Jaffres said. “With his philosophy of bringing his diners only the freshest of the season—a true farm to table commitment, with on-premise farm in the planning already—he’ll be bringing the fabulous back to New Canaan cuisine.”

Most recently, Kwaku-Dongo worked for seven years at L’Escale Restaurant on Greenwich Harbor as executive chef, then followed a dream by creating Chocolate Lab, a pastry and gelato shop where he produced his own chocolate line using raw material produced entirely in Ghana, where he operated a cocoa factory, according to the biography supplied by the Jaffres.

In New Canaan at Roger Sherman Inn—which doubles as New Canaan’s first library—Kwaku-Dongo enters a local establishment that’s made headlines in the past year. A developer who identified himself as contract purchaser on the historic property brought forward a plan to create a set of single-family dwellings on the Oenoke Ridge Road lot—a proposal that the Planning & Zoning Commission ultimately denied. As word spread that the Roger Sherman Inn faced the wrecking ball and permanent closure, locals rallied to support the restaurant.

An Ivory Coast native, Kwaku-Dongo left Africa in 1981 and moved to New York City to study literature at Manhattan’s Borough College, it said. He worked in restaurants in New York and landed a sous chef position at Remi restaurant under chef Francesco Antonucci. There, he met chef Wolfgang Puck, who brought Kwaku-Dongo to California and had him working at Chinois on Main in Los Angeles, Granita in Malibu and Postrio in San Francisco.

Kwaku-Dongo then worked as sous chef under chef Makoto Tanaka at Spago in West Hollywood, and the two traveled to Japan together to study the nation’s cuisine and technique. He later trained with a number of prominent French chefs, including Marc Meneau at L’Esperance in Saint-Pere-sou-Vezelay, Bernard Loiseau at La Cote d’Or.

Ultimately, according to his bio, Kwaku-Dongo became executive chef at Spago in 1992. Four years later, he opened Spago in Chicago, and oversaw the development and openings of Wolfgang Puck Catering and Events.

Kwaku-Dongo lives in Greenwich with his wife, Ruth, and their children, Joseph-Paul and Christine-Elizabeth.

8 thoughts on “Roger Sherman Inn’s Owners Introduce Prominent New Executive Chef

  1. Wow, I thought the Roger Sherman was breathing its last breath, but this sounds good. With the opening of Graybarns, now we have two great inn restaurants.
    Wasn’t he also at David’s Soundview, J House, and Aux Delices, all in Greenwich?

  2. Congratulations to the Roger Sherman and to Mr. Kwaku-Dongo. My greatest disappointment in the Roger Sherman has been the disconnect between its history and its menu/experience. Perhaps I was spoiled. When I moved to the east coast I was close to Philadelphia and my family and I had the chance to dine at the City Tavern. While the building is a recreation of the 17th century original, the experience is like stepping back in time. The staff are in period clothing and the menu features authentic recipes from George Washington’s Beer, Thomas Jefferson’s Sweet Potato Biscuits, to a wonderful range of First and Second Plates (appetizers and entrees) from the period. Taking family, friends, and visitors to the City Tavern for a living taste of American history has been one of our favorite experiences. Make no mistake, the Roger Sherman is a nice place to have a meal or a drink. But so are any number of other places in and around New Canaan. We can only hope that the Inn finds a way to capitalize on the true uniqueness of its structure and history.

  3. so excited that he is now at the Roger Sherman Inn as it is one of our favorite restaurants. I am surprised it was not mentioned that he spent the last 3 years as Executive Chef at one of our favorite catering companies David’s Soundview Catering in Stamford, and he did an amazing job there as well. His food is AMAZING. Cannot wait to see what he creates at the RS.

  4. Can’t wait to try his dishes. We just returned from Tanzania trip and will be by to see what Ivory Coast origins will bring us. Welcome to New Canaan! See you soon

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