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Chef Philip Heka Karanja

As a chef, I am driven by the desire to inspire others. This makes me realize that I only know so little and with that, I have learnt to listen and observe anyone who can cook as they will teach me something.

Whenever I remember the difficulties I encountered as an apprentice, I am reminded that we, as the semi-seasoned chefs, can do more to ease that struggle by becoming more helpful. For this reason, I am very passionate about training others, especially children.

Most of the chefs who taught me have either retired, own businesses or are in managerial positions. The point is, what legacy am I leaving behind? Being a chef should not be the end game.

I have made many mistakes, but I am the kind of person that values them. The beauty of mistakes is the reflection that follows thereafter, and the drive to fight back and become better. Our senior chefs taught us that  “a chef never makes mistakes but rather creates new recipes”.

Be consistent in your work. I have learnt to forget my last achievement as fast as I accomplish it.

In the different restaurants that I have had the privilege to work in, I’ve always been controversial. This is not in a bad way, but I believe you have to fight for what you believe in. You have to trust in the DNA of your cooking. In art school, they teach you how to use the brush and different shades of color. That doesn’t mean you have to draw the same portrait as your teacher. You have to be patient to learn from your teachers, but not to grow old in the kitchen. As a Head Chef, I am inspired by “rebel cooks” because they push the bar higher. It is for this reason that the name of my catering company has always been “Wild Chef”. From the uniform – which is black – to the service, I always love pushing myself. Fight for what you believe in.

My plate is always about a story. Chef Marco Pierre has taught us that two plates of food are different – not just because of the recipe, but also because of the story behind them. Learn to capture your guest through the details in the ingredients. Regardless of how tired you are, the client has to eat at the right time. Outside catering has engraved work ethic in me. I always tell my team to visualize the client eating hot and tasty meals at one o’clock. With that in mind, we work backwards beating all the obstacles on the way.

My parting shot: be excellent in all you do.

Executive Chef Philip Heka Karanja Quiz


Awarded a certificate of competence by the embassy of Saudi Arabia, in Dubai


A father of three; Kimberly Nyambura, Christine Wambui and Joseph Karanja.  I’m a chef by occupation. Growing up, I all the time needed to be a chef, however my father was in opposition to it, and advised I research IT and Accounting. After which I went to pursue meals and beverage manufacturing in Kenya Technical University, therefore becoming a member of the culinary world.

Did you go to culinary faculty?

Yes, I went to Kenya technical University.

Restaurants I’ve worked in

Tamarind Group of Restaurants

Carnivore Restaurant: Where I learnt to put together varied sport meats, catering occasion preparations, work within the sizzling kitchen and the pressures that include it. There, I additionally excelled in grilling, courtesy of the late Chef Kimani, who was my mentor and a superb pal.

Tamambo, The Mall Westlands Where I received higher within the kitchen and garde manger and discovered so much below a really skilled Chef Ngugi.

Tamarind Nairobi

Under Chef Mugo who may be very humble, I discovered self-discipline, seafood preparation, and above all, humble myself.

Tamarind Mombasa:

This uncovered me to making ready seafood and varied fish dishes. I’m all the time grateful to our Executive Chef Joseph Gacheru who I imagine is the ‘Kenyan Chef Ramsey’.

Elite Concepts in Marina, Dubai;

This is the place I used to be opened to as much as a brand new world of wonderful eating. After three years, I got here again dwelling and began my very own catering as a wild chef.

The One Watamu Bay Resort in Kilifi County:

This is a 4-star vacation spot on the coast of the Indian Ocean with 150 luxurious rooms.

What was your first job in meals?

When I used to be in faculty I laboured as a cook dinner for an American catholic neighbourhood in Karen, known as ‘Dominican Friars’.

Did you need to be whenever you develop up?

As a baby, I all the time needed to be a trainer.

Favourite factor of being a chef?

Imparting and impacting the love and fervour I’ve for good meals to my purchasers, household, and workers members, and studying from different individuals who have the identical ardour for cooking, as I do.

My ‘Aha’ second?

Was after I would go to Carnivore Restaurant as a teen, and watch how the cooks would current meals with a smile on their faces, the best way they’d gown up so neatly whereas serving the company. I additionally beloved the best way the meat carvers would curve varied forms of sport meats from the volcanic grilling pit. I all the time pictured myself doing the identical. The fee of the worldwide company on the restaurant was mind-blowing, and the music was simply wonderful.

Best recommendation you could have obtained?

Was from my father, who all the time instructed me, no matter what you do, do it to perfection, even when it’s simply sharpening sneakers.

The strangest factor you could have ever eaten?

Worms, termites, and snake

The favourite factor you want to do when you’re not cooking?

Swimming, meals images, and watching motion pictures.

What would you love to do earlier than you get previous?

I wish to begin an interactive TV cookery present, which provides a platform to each skilled and non-professional cooks, to trade concepts in meals and beverage manufacturing.

How do you cope with kitchen stress?

I imagine in God. I additionally imagine He can by no means give me an activity too exhausting to deal with. Secondly, stress is apparent prevalence within the kitchen. The trick is, by no means to let it get private. Minimize stress by doing prior preparations.

Which chef would you want to satisfy?

Gordon Ramsey and Jaime Oliver.

Who would you wish to cook dinner for?

I’ve had the privilege of cooking for retired president Moi and retired president Kibaki. I might like to cook dinner for, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, the present President of Kenya.

The hardest factor that you simply by no means appear to get proper?

Making spherical chapattis (they all the time come out in several continental shapes.)

How has being a chef modified my life?

One of my largest challenges as a chef is working throughout weekends, the Christmas season and public holidays, and by no means getting sufficient time to spend with household and pals. Since I joined the trade 17 years in the past, I’ve solely loved Christmas with my household on two events. On a constructive observation, I’m all the time cautious of the place I eat, what I eat, the place I purchase it from, and the way the meals is hygienically ready.

My best problem as a chef?

Is consuming meals cooked by different folks, and since they know I’m a chef, they count on criticism.  But even when the meals are just not adequate however recent, I all the time ask for a second serving to.

How I make as much as a household for misplaced time?

By being with them after I’m free, cooking for them after I can, however most significantly, spending high quality with them and making certain they’re all doing okay.

My highlights?

I’ve been in a position to meet many excessive-profile folks, celebrities and completely different political figures in my line of obligation. I’ve additionally had the prospect to journey so much, inside the nation and out of doors the nation as effectively. I’ve additionally had the privilege of heading so many social occasions, weddings and likewise working as a personal chef.

I’ve been a movie chef in several TV exhibits i.e.; MAZA, AZIZA, VASHITA and MOYO. Working with the movie trade has made me notice my power in images i.e., meals images particularly; and heightened my need of proudly owning a TV present.

As a government chef at ‘THE ONE WATAMU BAY’, I’ve loved it so much. This resort is a space of pure magnificence, with tropical seashores, sweeping savannahs and coral reefs. It’s one of many best-untapped wonders of East Africa. The Watamu shoreline is poised to change into the following massive factor in African tourism.

My cooking suggestions?

It may be very harmful to make use of onions that have been reducing a day earlier than, they change into toxic and create poisonous micro organism which can trigger severe abdomen infections due to extra bile secretion inflicting meals poisoning.

Nevertheless, consuming recent uncooked onions or inserting sliced onions on one’s chest helps ease the constriction of bronchial tubes.

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