Anne Sekyi • From Days Of Bell-Bottoms To A Glass Of Cranberry Juice

By Daily Graphic

Ther is something about a woman who sports short hair. She gives off a certain confidence - that is also cool, and for many, a calm disposition which often gets urbane men to do a double take when they see her.

Anne Sekyi, proprietor of Accra's leading patisserie, the Labone based Melting Moments cafe, sporting a cropped cut, gets many such double takes. With Anne though, it's not only because of her stylish short haircut.

The lady is simply beautiful. Plump, elegant, Anne is petite, and carries herself with such graceful charm, always dressed aptly for every occasion.

Today, she's in a straight green cotton print dress with embroidery, and is, as usual, wearing very light make up. In the five minutes that I've been sitting here at her now famous cafe waiting for her, I've seen the place swarm with delighted customers who seem so at home.

Some chatting away over their meals; one person gorging quietly as she stares into an opened laptop computer next to her plate; yet another person, sitting in the wrought iron sofa pulling on a straw inserted in an arresting smoothie in a most unusual glass, which I deduce must have strawberry, judging from its colour, reading a copy of 'O' magazine.

Melting Moments is the rage. Outside, punters sat in groups at the tables set on the veranda, and as one car backed out of the car park, another quickly zoomed in to a halt in the vacant slot. It's been two years of a constant flow of people, many of them having made Melting Moments a regular haunt. What was the secret to this enviable success?

Anne couldn't put a finger on one thing as the main reason, because her customers tell her of various reasons, ranging from the delicious food, the ambience or the warmth of the people you meet there.

She, however, eventually agreed with me that it had something to do with her affable nature, the smiles she gives them every day as she does the rounds in the dining room attending to her customers.

I looked around the room again. In a corner was a quiet young couple, a coy boy and bashful girl! It was obvious, they were on a date. A special date, maybe, even, a first date. He was stirring into her eyes, and she seemed to be 'dissolving' over his gaze. Perhaps, that's what the ambience of this place does, makes one melt for their lover!

But, it's not the first time Anne has opened and run a successful restaurant. Having always wanted to, she opened an eatery at Labone junction near former Omari Bookshop serving Ghanaian dishes back in 1994.

“My landlord became greedy and tried to blackmail me into paying more rent when it was not due for another year, so I closed up shop,” said Anne in a high pitch, twitching her mouth in a humorous fashion. We both burst out laughing.

Just then, Desire, one of the waiters brought my order. A prawn and avocado salad, and a BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomatoes) sandwich, with a coffee magic smoothie. She was drinking a cold glass of cranberry juice. As I ingested the dish, she carried on.

“I then got an exciting job offer to go into radio, and being the adventurer that I am, always up for challenges, I put starting a new restaurant on the backburner,” she said.

She joined Vibe FM as a news editor, became general manager, and hosted popular programmes like Big Lunch and Flashback! After a few years, she moved from Vibe FM to Choice FM, bringing to listeners her pleasant selection of mellow tunes.

“In between working for Choice FM, I became a TV presenter, hosting Asanka Delight, a cookery show on TV3 for years, and then Borges Health Check on GTV.”

On TV, she's also a regular, as one of the permanent 'godmothers' in the hit Miss Malaika TV reality show.

Her love for media work – she studied journalism and sociology in England – can also be seen in her penchant for writing, having always written columns on health and beauty, and cookery for newspapers as varied as The Statesman, Accra Mail and The Mirror. She was even the editor of Chief Dele Momodu's society magazine Ovation West Africa.

But it was cooking, which tutelage she acquired from her maternal grandmother, herself a gourmet chef, being her first love, that became the star of her enterprise, impelling her to finally open her own coffee bar.

“I enjoyed the experience but it was time to move on to my ultimate dream – of opening my eatery,” Anne mildly put it. And what a hit it has been! Focusing on its core business of providing home-made cakes and well established light dishes, Anne has also introduced more new dishes from her own vast recipes, and also some from her grandmother's methods. The plan is to “open more Melting Moments across town,” says Anne.

Born in the late 1950s, Anne grew up in what she describes as “the romantic, adventurous 60s. It was the time when people wore bell-bottomed trousers, miniskirts and afro hairdos!”

Together with her parents and only brother, she grew up in a close knit community in Kumasi where she was tagged with the label ''Dada ba'' – literally 'Daddy's baby' because her family lived in a 'bungalow', and attended University Primary School.

As a toddler, the family went away to live a while in England, came back to Ghana and then to America till she was eight before finally returning to settle in Kumasi.

“I was all excited when I finally got to go to high school, leaving home by myself for the first time. I attended St Louis Secondary school, a catholic school and one of the ''in'' schools at those days.

She loved the 70's. “It was liberating, fun and focused!” she says. “For me, a good story or article or a scrumptious dish is simply an orgasmic experience.”

Marrying in her mid twenties, she moved to live in England with her new doctor husband for 11 years.

That's when she studied for a diploma in journalism and a degree in sociology, and had two children, two beautiful girls—Naana and Ohemaa Nkansa-Dwamena.

“We moved to Saudi Arabia in the early nineties,” but she moved back to Ghana in 1993.

Currently single, Anne has quirky food loves like roasted plantain with lashings of butter and she likes to mash boiled yam, which she loves with stew.

“I love reading, and travelling to exciting places and I love dancing when the music takes me.” And you should see Anne take on the floor at Impulse discotheque.