Shanta Nunn has always loved to cook and in July 2000 she explored the idea of ââa culinary school.
âFood has always been a part of my life,â she says.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
He says: “I was delighted to meet her.”
She said, “I was nervous and overwhelmed because I hadn’t been out much.”
On our wedding day:
He says: I was nervous that day. It was the only time I wondered if I was doing the right thing. And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m doing the right thing. This is the right thing.
She says, “My sister-in-law was in town and we went to do a lot of things – we had massages, we had our nails and our hair done – and I ran late.”
My advice for a long and happy marriage:
He said, âI promised my mother that I would cherish and respect every woman as I respect her. I think in every marriage there are sacrifices and compromises.
She said, “I think you have to define what happiness and joy are and you have to take the good with the bad.”
She posted in an AOL newsgroup asking for comment on the culinary school and her request was answered by Moussa Baro, then chef at Bistro St. Tropez in Philadelphia.
Shanta asked Moussa about culinary school. Moussa told him what he knew, then he asked her what types of food she liked to prepare and details of how she prepared them.
Moussa arrived in the United States from Senegal, West Africa, in 1997.
“I always liked to know more and to know more, so I asked him questions,” Moussa says. “It was mostly food – how do you cook that, how do you make that kind of sauce, do you know how to make that and so on.”
As their conversations progressed, he started returning home from work to speak with Shanta. They got to know each other through texts, emails and phone calls – and through the language of food.
âThings moved beyond just talking about the food, you know, so we started to talk in earnest,â Shanta said. “It was just a natural progression, like meeting a person in person.”
In October 2000, they decide it is time to meet and Moussa flies to Little Rock. The fact that they didn’t even exchange photos at that point earned Moussa some ridicule from his colleagues in Philadelphia – and presented a challenge to identify himself at the airport.
Shanta asked Moussa to wear a white polo shirt with a brown belt and brown shoes so she knew who he was. Moussa didn’t have a white polo shirt so he went shopping.
âIt’s the best look on a guy,â she explains.
He asked her to wear braids.
“When she saw me she said, ‘Moussa?’ I said yes and we hugged and talked, “he says.
Shanta introduced Moussa to her friends and family while he was in town and gave her a tour of the Arkansas Arts Center where she was working at the time, and they ate at the Purple Cow.
Moussa stayed for a week, then returned to Philadelphia. In December he returned.
They went to the Excelsior Hotel with Shanta’s friends, he met his mother, and they weathered an ice storm.
Moussa moved to Little Rock on February 10, starting a new job with Alouette just before Valentine’s Day.
âWe had the same likes, the same dislikes, the same funny attitude and that was it,â says Moussa.
Neither was looking for romance when they met in this AOL chat room 20 years ago.
âI didn’t expect to get married,â Shanta says. “It was never in my plans. It was just hit or miss.”
Some people were surprised by their quick engagement, Moussa says, but he remembered something his father told him when he was growing up in Africa.
âMy dad gave me good advice,â he says. “He always told me if you see a $ 100 bill, what are you going to do?” Are you going to leave it there?
If he left it there, intending to pick it up later, someone else would likely find it and pick it up before he returned, he explains. And so it was with Shanta, he said – he wasn’t about to let someone else look for her first.
He asked for his mother’s blessing and he also called his family.
They were married on April 21, 2001 at the Arkansas Arts Center.
The late Townsend Wolfe, then director of the Arts Center, had called Shanta into his office before the wedding to tell her he was covering the costs of the installation for his event.
âIt was the most touching thing,â Shanta said. “It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.”
Her family was present for the ceremony and Moussa’s sister also came from Philadelphia for the event.
Moving to Arkansas was an adjustment for Moussa. Among other things, he could no longer rely on his bicycle or public transport to get around, so he had to get a driver’s license.
âIt was OK,â he says. “I did it quickly.”
Shanta and Moussa make their home in Little Rock. He is now Restaurant Manager for Parkway Villages and she is the National Development Manager for HIPPY USA.
They are parents of two boys: Alassane, stillborn, and Ibrahima, 13 years old.
Shanta Nunn-Baro met her husband, Moussa Baro, in an AOL chat room in the summer of 2000 when she thought she might like to become a chef. They got to know each other through the language of food. âI’ve always liked to know more and to know more, so I would ask him questions,â Moussa says. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
âYou have to take the wonderful with what might not have been so wonderful because we had a hard time. We lost a child,â Shanta says.
They also had fun together watching Bollywood movies and of course the Food Network. They always love to talk about food and they love to cook together.
âWe really love to cook,â Shanta says. “We cooked a really good meal last night – he had a tomahawk steak, I had a cowboy steak and we had a German potato salad, beets, avocados and arugula – and we looked at Food Network and browsed my Instagram and looked at food on Instagram. “
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High profile on 10/05/2020