Our Entrepreneurs: Maame Esi Dekyewa Yankah

Last year we welcomed Venture Studio from Crisis as a programme partner. As part of this partnership, we invited four talented innovators and business owners from their Changing Lives Grant scheme to join the NHS CEP. Today we meet Maame Esi Dekyewa Yankah.

Name: Maame Esi Dekyewa Yankah – Venture Studio from Crisis Entrepreneur

Occupation: Chef and business owner

“It is more than cooking – food is culture, storytelling, well-being, edible art, a way of communication”

Maame Esi’s story

Maame Esi started her career studying Environmental Management at Imperial College, London. Now, as the founder of “By Maame” she is showcasing West African culture on a plate and educating others on the history and health benefits of this cuisine as well as highlighting other ways we can communicate with food.

Maame Esi first started working with Crisis, when living in an all-women’s hostel. When her support worker suggested taking some courses, she thought it would just be a way to while away time. However, Maame Esi soon completed classes in business, website design, blogging and photography, all whilst training as part of the Crisis cafe.

This learning helped to launch her business. She was already an experienced chef, but skills like being creative with ingredients, plating and food photography helped take her online presence to the next level. Maame Esi’s work is about more than enjoying food – it brings her culture into the mainstream, with a focus on nutrition and wellbeing; it’s to showcase food as edible art. Maame Esi’s food had previously been showcased in the Crisis Café in London, where she frequently designed specials for the menu.

Joining the NHS CEP

Maame Esi was initially sceptical about sharing her vision with the NHS. She spent time studying the stories of other entrepreneurs who had been through the program but after careful consideration, Maame Esi believed that her focus on linking food with health would find a natural home in the programme, and she is now benefitting from the positive energy of networking closely with other founders.

After enrolling onto the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme 10 months ago, she has been able to step out of the kitchen, giving space to work on the skills where she has less experience, including marketing, accountancy, pitching your small business, funding, and branding. Maame Esi has also received mentorship and bespoke support from the programme team to further aid the development of her business.

The programme for me is inspirational and the opportunity is enormous. Through support from my mentor, networking, and industry days, I have been able to challenge myself to explore new ways of working, to further develop my USP.

Knowing you are being looked after is important as the entrepreneur journey can be challenging, lonely and tedious, but when you feel worn out, the events re-energise you.

A highlight on the programme has been the opportunity to deliver food at a Pit Stop event. Testing my food with clinical entrepreneurs has been a step forward for me, as I have evidence through amazing feedback that I have made an impact.

The major progress I have made is on the wellbeing side of my business, exploring how I can design my product in a way to inspire patients.’ – Maame Esi Dekyewa Yankah

Looking to the future

Moving forward, Maame Esi is excited to be enrolling onto a Culinary Medicine UK course, devised by Rupy Aujla who is a fellow Clinical Entrepreneur. The programme will help to further her expertise in cooking for health including nutrition, lifestyle medicine and unique culinary knowledge.  

The NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme are proud to be working with Venture Studio and look forward to welcoming the next Crisis cohort to the programme in 2023. To find out more about the NHS CEP partnership with Venture Studio from Crisis, please visit our partner page or visit their website.

Recipe- Red Red

Here’s a recipe for the dish, Red Red, that sold best during our Black History Month Celebrations in the Crisis Café. The name Red Red is from the oil heated and added to the cooked beans and from the fried yellow plantain. I’ve paired the bean stew with Tatale, a spicy overripe plantain pancake. I’ve substituted the plantain for bananas as they’re easy to find. Enjoy! On pancake day, any day. 

Red Red

Cooking Time: 30–40 mins Serves 2


Beans stew

  • 100g black eyed beans.
  • 1/2 can of chopped tomatoes or 3 medium fresh tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil of your choice • 2/3 medium-sized onion
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • A clove of garlic


  • 4–5 medium-sized overripe bananas
  • 2 tbsp of plain flour or substitute for any allergy
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • A pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • A pinch of ground cloves



Beans Stew

  • Soak beans overnight. Discard water.
  • Add 400ml water and cook on medium heat to 30–40mins.
  • Lightly crush this with masher and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Chop 2/3 onions. Add to pan and sauté on medium heat.
  • Stir in crushed garlic and 1 tbsp of grated ginger.
  • Add chopped tomatoes to the pan. Cover with lid and allow to cook for 10 mins on medium heat. If using fresh tomatoes, dice and add to the pan. Add a pinch of grounded black pepper or cayenne or chili powder for a little heat and 1/2 tsp salt to taste. Stir beans into tomato stew cover and allow to simmer on low to medium heat for 10 mins, stirring occasionally


  • Peel and crush the overripe bananas with a fork. Do not overdo so you still have some chunks of the banana in the mixture.
    • Add 1 tbsp of ginger or blend with remaining 1/3 of the onions. Alternatively, finely grate the onions too.
    • Mix spices, including ground cloves with crushed bananas.
    • Mix in the 2 tbsp of plain flour to help bind the banana batter.
    • To a non-stick frying pan, add 1 tbsp of your choice of cooking oil and heat on medium heat.
    • Using a tbsp, spoon three of your banana mixture into the pan. Cook each pancake 3 – 4 minutes on each side and tip onto the plate. Repeat process with another 1 tbsp and remaining batter.
    • Serve Tatale with your bean stew.