I am a Kenyan by birth (1974). I was raised in Nzalae, a small village in Mwingi, Kitui County. My passion for cooking can be traced back to my old days when I was 10 years old. I was lured into the culinary world when this industry was barely recognized in our village. I spent several years in my mother’s kitchen cooking local and traditional dishes.
I completed high school in 1996, moved to Nairobi permanently in 1997, and set my sights on a career in the hospitality industry. I immediately secured my first job – washing dishes with no qualifications – which turned out to have a huge impact on my life and career. I made less than minimum wage and eventually put myself through a part-time culinary school (Nairobi North Polytechnic). My shift at my place of work started at 10:00 am and there was no way I could tell my boss to allow me to attend culinary classes because then you could lose your job for that; so even to secure my industrial training elsewhere was very tricky. I was lucky to secure one at Meridian Court Hotel with a very tight schedule (6:00 am – 9:40 am) before resuming my duties at work at 10:00 am. However, I had a full day of training on my weekly day off. I was part of the early shift reporting to prepare breakfast, bake and kick-start lunch before I checked out. I eventually graduated in 1999.
I didn’t secure a kitchen job immediately, so I had to move and settle for a waiter slot at Burger Chef Restaurant in Hurlingham. Four years later, I got a job at Hilton Nairobi as a Commis chef, where my craft started to swing, and I was able to work my way up to a position of a CPD within a record three years. I earned myself a transfer to Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort, where I worked as a junior Sous chef in 2008. While there, I enrolled for foundation and intermediate level courses in the faculty of food and drinks business at the Hotel school The Hague, which I graduated from in 2010. I also did the famous “Leadership@hilton” course at Hilton University.
In 2011, I jumped at the opportunity to work as an Executive sous chef at Leisure Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Diani, Mombasa, where my skills were really tested. I worked my way up to an Executive chef position within a record of eight months. I’ve had the opportunity to cook for the former president His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, President Uhuru Kenyatta, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, and many other top dignitaries and connoisseurs from inside and outside the country.
While at Leisure Lodge, I had a rare chance to work as a culinary arts Lecturer at IHTI (International Hospitality Training Institute). I was also lucky to do a couple of culinary projects with Eamon Mullan, one of the decorated chefs in the country. I spent a couple of months with him at Fairview Hotel while he was an Executive chef there.
In 2015, an opportunity arose to join Breezes Beach Club in Zanzibar as an Executive chef. Four years later, I moved back to the country; and together with two of my colleagues, I created Espuma Hospitality Consulting Ltd which caters to events, training, hospitality recruitment, and consultation. Espuma Culinary School, which offers culinary arts, was also born. I am the director and the main instructor at the school. We continue to produce cooks with sterling skills and plan on opening another branch in Mombasa.
I am married to Dorothy and we have three kids – a girl (Venus Mwatha) and two boys (Babel Kangoli & Eden Pendo), who are also very passionate about cooking. We have developed many local recipes together and are planning to publish a family recipe book in the near future.