Maria Bradford

My name is Maria Bradford and I am the Founder and Head Chef at Shwen Shwen. The name Shwen Shwen is derived from the Krio language word for fancy, which describes how I style my food. I cook traditional Sierra Leonean and Afro-fusion cuisine, bringing a whole new world of flavours to your door. I cater for Dinner parties, weddings, corporate events, drawing upon our Sierra Leonean colourful culture to bring people closer together through food. I was born and raised in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. I have many fond childhood memories. Mainly to do with my fascination for age-old African recipes. Discovering fresh, local, flavoursome ingredients and cooking for all my family and friends. My enduring love for the taste of home took me to that point, but I wanted to deepen my understanding of cooking theory, and expand my knowledge surrounding food, so I went to Leiths School of food and wine to satisfy my culinary passions and solidify a professional future in food. I now have my own product range which I sell via my online shop and this includes Salone Fire, Chilli Sauce, Salone Spark and a range of juices and mixers. I have even sourced my own white and pink sparkling prosecco. I have turned my life-long passion of food into a fulfilling business which was conceived in 2017 and I am now bringing Sierra Leonean and Afro-fusion dishes to a broader audience. My social media reach grew from Nano to Micro and is now edging towards Mid-tier and I am so very grateful for the interest that generated. In 2021 I signed with Quadrille to publish my debut cookbook ‘Sweet Salone’ which will be available in hardback in the UK, US and Australia in July 23. I was recognised in The Guardian’s OFM 50 in 2022, have featured in BBC Good Food, Olive Magazine, Women and Home, The Good Food Guide, Fine Food Digest, Love Food, The METRO, Kent Life, Resy Mag, The Grocer and much more. In 2022 I won the BIH Spotlight award for African Food and at our very own Afro Arts Productions - Salone Oscars for an outstanding contribution to the culinary arts. This is my calling, and I love it!”

Special subjects

Sierra Leonean Cuisine West Africa Afro-fusion

Languages spoken

Krio, Mende and English

Regular work

I am the founder and head chef for Shwen Shwen.

Advisory boards / Awards


Commercial interests

Only Shwen Shwen Limited.

Maria Bradford