Nyanyika Banda is a Malawian-American chef, writer and entrepreneur. Banda lived in Madison, Wisconsin as a teenager and began her culinary career at the age of 15 working at a Black owned Rotisserie chicken restaurant there. She then went on to earn a Culinary Degree from Madison College in 2012. While attending Madison College she competed and placed in multiple American Culinary Federation competitions. Upon graduation Banda relocated to New York City to become a Sous Chef at Mission Chinese Food. She has worked in a number of acclaimed kitchens across the country including WD-50 and the Saveur Magazine test kitchen.
After her experiences in NYC, Banda moved back to the midwest to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She designed her history and writing majors around African Foodways and has been a scholar of the topic ever since.
It was as an undergraduate that she started her writing career with a monthly column in the TASTE section of the Duluth News Tribune. She also started an underground pop up restaurant called Martha’s Daughter. Her food garnered a cult following and on her graduation day she picked up the keys to her new brick and mortar.
Banda helped put Duluth on the map with her critically acclaimed restaurant Martha’s Daughter, described by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune as “a stylish reflection of its chef/owner” with “an eclectic and globe-hopping menu of meticulously prepared and wonderfully affordable dishes.” In 2018 they won an Eater Award for the endeavor.
Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, Banda has returned to her home town of Amherst, Massachusetts. She now teaches Culinary Arts at Holyoke Community College and continues to freelance. Banda has contributed to Food52, Thrilist, Saveur and RESY and has an essay in the book Knives and Ink.