The West African Chef Behind Motherland Kitchen Also Runs a YouTube Channel

In Frederick, chef Sabina Jules dishes up homey Cameroonian and Caribbean cooking.

Cameroon-born Sabina Jules worked in IT for two decades before becoming a chef. Photography by Magdalena Papaioannou.

Motherland Kitchen

language Website

location_on 7800 Biggs Ford Rd., Frederick

A sleepy intersection opposite a dilapidated barn in rural Frederick is an unlikely place to find noteworthy West African cooking. But that’s exactly where you’ll discover Motherland Kitchen. Step inside and you’ll be hit with the aroma of dried crayfish frying with ginger, garlic, and complex spice blends.

Motherland Kitchen is owned by Cameroon-­born Sabina Jules, an IT professional turned chef with a YouTube cooking show that shares its name with the restaurant. Jules sees herself as an ambassador for African cuisines. “This food is new to a lot of people, and people want to come and sit and talk,” she says. “It’s an experience, and most people want to see you and ask questions.”

Motherland Kitchen, 7800 Biggs Ford Rd., Frederick. Photograph by Magdalena Papaioannou.

Raised in the English-speaking region of the primarily Francophone West African nation, Jules started learning to cook at nine, following her mother, a professional chef. After securing a visa to attend Kean University in New Jersey, Jules worked as a database administrator for two decades. Still, cooking—the family business—remained in the back of her mind. By the time the pandemic came around, Jules had had enough of IT and was ready to look for restaurant spaces.

A few of the dishes at Motherland Kitchen are deeply rooted in Jules’s background. Ndolé, sometimes described as Cameroon’s national dish, is a fine, leafy stew enriched with boiled crushed peanuts and that dried crayfish. Jules prepares it with a choice of beef, shrimp, or chicken. Chicken DG—Poulet “Directeur Général” in French—was created by Cameroonian cooks in the boom decade of the 1980s. The idea was that only the directeur général of a company could afford the generous plate, which consists of a spiced whole chicken fried with a cornucopia of vegetables including string beans, plantains, and carrots.

At Motherland Kitchen, try Chicken DG and a stew of oyster mushrooms and peanuts. Photography by Magdalena Papaioannou.

If you ask Jules for a recommendation, she won’t necessarily point you to those traditional Cameroonian items. She’s just as proud of her Caribbean standbys like beef patties. (“I make everything with the same amount of love,” she says.)

Motherland Kitchen has an extensive selection of vegan dishes, based on the cooking methods Jules’s mother used when the family had no meat. Stews such as cabbage/pumpkin-seed or oyster-­mushroom/peanut come with a mound of fufu made from a choice of starch (including corn, cassava, plantain, and more).

Jules also started a cooking channel, where she uploads instructional videos based on a different menu item from Mother­land Kitchen each week. Her videos are exhaustive: Before whipping up a dish of Chicken DG on camera, she launches into a history of how the dish was conceived and what Cameroon’s economy was like at the time. It’s a reminder that though the nation’s embassy is on Massachusetts Avenue, its unofficial cultural outpost is right here on a back road in Frederick.

Ike Allen
Assistant Editor