From noon till dawn the participants sweated to make it to the next round at the Corner Affair Bistro, Rhapta Road.
Round after exciting round, there were eliminations and two chefs were left to take it head on. This was Chef Joseph Macharia from Fairview Hotel and Chef Emmanuel Aluda from Sarova Stanley. Cooking fans streamed in to witness the gruelling final round that saw Macharia go home with the top prize, his dishes definitely making a big impression on the judges.
Yummy interviewed the winner and here is what he had to say:
Congratulations on your win. What do you intend to do with the prize money?
Give back to the chefs in the kitchen who have supported me throughout the period of the competition – maybe buy them cooking books or get proper knives for them.My family too who have backed me in all the stages of the competition.
How did Chef Mullan & the team at the Fairview celebrate?
We are still planning on a celebration party with the directors and chefs, but so far all we have done is take a few pictures with the trophy and a few drinks in the kitchen.
When did you first pick up a passion for cooking? How old were you?
It all started when my mother slowly encouraging me to cook at home since most of the time she would be working and I would be left home alone, gradually passion gained in and I did not only cook the normal food we have at home but I started sourcing for cook books.
At 19 years that’s in the year 2004 I had an opportunity to be on a TV show that allowed me be an apprentice chef for a day, I went to the Norfolk Hotel and there I met Chef Eamon Mullan who I worked with the entire day. After the show I asked if he could take me in as a permanent apprentice.I was interviewed and was accepted into their brigade.I was fortunate that I started working in their Fine Dining kitchen serving the Ibis Restaurant which at that time was acknowledged as the best Restaurant in Nairobi.
What do you feel about the competition within the restaurant industry in Kenya?
The competition is growing in the right way, but most of the hotels/restaurants should get their act together and invest in educating the chefs not only formal but also getting to do stage in overseas and let them see how culinary as a whole package has grown.
If not, then they should fly in celebrity chefs or good chefs who have the know how and let them learn new ways of cooking from these chefs. We have good calibre chefs in Nairobi who can be great chefs in the future; all they need is a boost and them to be open minded, because in the kitchen everyday is a learning day, new trend and different ways of cooking
What’s you favourite dish or food? Do you prefer Kenyan home cooking or extravagant Continental cuisine?
My favourite dish at the moment is Creole of Seafood escabeche which consists of Wild caught Indian Ocean crab, lobster, prawns and octopus marinated in crushed lime with sliced avocado, scorched black olive dust, Caribbean rum and red pepper paint. I prefer extravagant continental cuisine reason is there is more to learn and work with than our Kenyan cuisine.
Chef Mullan has trained some of the best chefs in Kenya and many have gone abroad. Do you plan to stay in Kenya?
I have been out and about in training and competitions, namely:- , Ritz London, Claridges London, Goring London and Simpsons Restaurant a Michelin star in Birmingham. For competitions:- West vs East Africa in Accra Ghana where Kenya got Gold as a team and the recent one in Ireland where I Got Gold medal in a Fish dish Competition and Silver medal in a duck dish at the Ifex chef skills competition.
We represented team Kenya at the world chefs tour against hunger in South Africa all for a good cause and coming back home to give this knowledge to friends makes me happy. Been out there and seeing what other chefs are doing I am still planning on moving out to see more and learn more than bring what I have gathered home and lend a helping hand to others, just like what Chef Mullan has been doing to all other chefs.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Nairobi (apart from Pango of course)?
I will mention 3, mainly:
2. Mandhari restaurant Serena.
3. Thai chi restaurant The Stanley