Photo Credit: TN
Haitian-American Chris Viaud, 31, is the owner of Ansanm, a pop-up concept that celebrates Viaud’s Haitian culture and generational recipes. Launched in January 2021 and held in New Hampshire within Greenleaf’s flagship space in Milford, Ansanm is a great choice for those who want to taste the flavor of Haitian cuisine on a monthly basis. The delicious cuisine prepared by Viaud, who recently starred in Top Chef 18 aired last year.
Ansanm, which means ‘Together’ in Haitian Creole, hosts the Ansanm Sunday Dinner each month, which is a ticketed event where the local community, and travelers visiting or passing through, have a chance to have dinner with Chef Chris and his family for a seated dinner in Greenleaf. They get to experience the exclusive Ansanm menu; making Milford, NH a new hidden culinary destination for authentic Haitian cuisine.
With a Degree in Culinary Arts & Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University, Viaud grew up always eating his mother’s Haitian meals but never prepared them himself. As he got older he realized how important it was going to be to understand Haitian cuisine, ingredients, and recipes and how he was going to one day want to share this knowledge with his children, and eventually his community. ”My family sat down together to create concise documents that do have recipes to ensure they can be passed down from generation to generation and that each Ansanm Sunday Dinner and/or pick-up menu is consistent for their customers,” Viaud told Travel Noire.
For him, what makes Haitian cuisine unique is the time involved in the cooking process, from washing the meats with a citrus marinade to ensure the meat is clean, to the ingredients being used; there are tons of herbs and spices to be prepared. “The cuisine is filled with stories. It allows a family to connect and talk about the day while preparing the meals,” he said.
Viaud explained that his approach to food is rustic yet refined by classic techniques and my menus are inspired by locally-grown seasonal products. Haitian food is prepared with the senses: touch, taste, smell, etc.
For someone who isn’t familiar with cooking Haitian food, Viaudi advises that it is important to do some research about Haitian cuisine. “If there are any Haitian friends in your circle, ask for help in understanding the cuisine and culture from their point of view. See if they’re willing to share recipes for you to try at home.”
Chris Viaud’s favorite dishes are Poule Nan Sos, which is stewed chicken in creole sauce, and Labouyi, a dessert porridge seasoned with cinnamon, and star anise. “Pule Nan Sos is comforting and brings warmth to your soul, and Labouyi is super creamy and reminds me of my childhood,” he revealed.
However, he mentioned that Soup Joumou is the most emblematic Haitian food, and it is also very popular. Soup Joumou is a soup that enslaved Haitians would make for their masters. Once they gained freedom from the French on January 1, 1804, they began making it for themselves. “Now, it’s something Haitians make every January 1 as a celebration of independence from the French, and it’s otherwise known as Freedom Soup.” Soup Joumou can be prepared and eaten outside of January. But, it’s important to remember the significance behind preparing and eating it on January 1.
Viaud told us that the preparation of Soup Joumou depends on the batch. “We make enough for two servings per person for our family, which is eight people, so there are about 15 or 16 servings per batch. For the community when we offer it at Ansanm Sunday Dinners or other special events, we’ll make five to ten gallons at a time.”
With the success of Ansanm, which currently operates within Greenleaf’s space, Viaud said that he has plans to expand it to other areas. “We have plans to host our pop up dinners in different locations across New England,” he concluded.
You can find Ansanm on Instagram.
© 2022 Travel Noire. All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission.
Photo Credit: TN