Michael Weru, executive chief chef, Outspan Hotel, Nyeri
How did you become a chef?
Cooking was one of my childhood hobbies. After high school, I enrolled at the Kenya Utalii College. I have worked at big hotels in and out of the country.
How long have you worked as a chef?
I have been tantalising people’s taste buds with different cuisines since 1990.This year I mark 26 years as a chef..
Who is your mentor?
I draw a lot of inspiration from Chef Ravi Kapur, the San Franciscan chef who turns simple recipes into tasty meals. My other mentor is Chef Eamon Mullan, Kenya’s leading culinary trainer.
I benefited from his training while working for the former Block Hotels. I was honoured to have learned the ropes from the man who was appointed as chef to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Kenya in 1982.
What is your favourite food?
Grilled trout with roast potatoes.
What do you love to cook?
Muglai dishes which have their origin in medieval India. I love them because they allow you to use a wide variety of ground and whole spices.
Which famous person would love to cook for?
The current president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta. I had the privilege of cooking for him when he was campaigning for the presidential seat in 2002.
What would you cook for him?
Lamb chops with ugali or mukimo. He is not very choosy when it comes to food, but he loves meat.
Which accomplishment are you most proud of?
Re-opening the Treetops Hotel in 2012. It is a hotel with a rich history, being the hotel in which the young Princess Elizabeth stayed and became queen following her father’s death.
What are your strengths?
I am good at menu engineering, cooking and food presentation. I am a good trainer too; I pass down some of my culinary tricks to new chefs working with me.
What are your hobbies?
I enjoy farming and swimming.
Which ingredients are a must-have in your pantry?
Salt, honey, lemon, black pepper, fresh garlic and fresh ginger.
– ESTHER MWANGI
Spring chicken sizzler
500 g chicken
1 g mashed garlic
5 g mustard
A pinch of iodised table salt
1 g turmeric powder
5 ml corn oil
1. Season the chicken with mashed garlic, mustard and salt.
2. Heat the corn oil on a hot plate and cook the chicken at high temperature of about 150 °C to seal the pores.
3. After the chicken is seared (obtains the desired brown crust) reduce the heat and continue cooking until it is well-done (five minutes each side).
4. Serve the chicken on a sizzling plate garnished with onion rings, spinach and thin tomato slices.
5. Serve with a scoop of rice, ugali or French fries and barbecue sauce.
– Michael Weru