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Chefs James and Elias and butlers James and Bonface hit the Nairobi food scene with Head Chef Collins and Shannon in tow...
It’s been nearly 48 hours since I’ve left Nairobi and I can tell you I am still full. Bellyaching, stuffed to the brim, water and lettuce only for the next few days F-U-L-L. I have just finished 2.5 days of non-stop eating.
- The plan: To take two chefs and two butlers to Nairobi to experience new cuisines
- The challenge: Many of our staff are Maasai and have never been outside of the Mara despite cooking and serving our guests who come from all over the world
- The schedule: Eating from sun-up to well past sun-down with visits to hotels and suppliers in between
- The outcome: An enlightened team and such fun memories – and 5kg heavier
We started off with an easy introduction to our Grand Nairobi Food Tour – one that wouldn’t scare the team from facing their next meal. Nyama Mama is a lively place serving Kenyan-inspired dishes with a super cool global twist. The atmosphere is fun and inviting, the menu familiar to Kenyans and foreigners alike. It’s perfect for sharing starters and getting a taste of everything the menu has to offer: from deep-fried cassava balls to pulled pork chapatti quesadillas, we feasted. I could see the tension leaving the butlers’ shoulders who generally prefer ugali and mbuzi (goat) to anything rich, spicy or foreign. But soon the team piled in from commenting on the dipping sauces used with samosas, to the flavouring of the BBQ sauce on the spareribs. That night, we all walked away with tummies full and a new appreciation about the flavours of every mouthful of food.
Over the next 48 hours, we dashed around the city delighting not only our taste buds but also all of our senses. We had breakfast one morning tucked away in Karura Forest where it feels you’ve left the busy city behind. After sampling their entire menu at River Café, it was decided that the Croque Monsieur was the table favourite. Another meal pushed the comfort zones of many as we tried grilled calamari, prawns piri-piri and seared tuna all fresh from the coast at Tamarind Restaurant. Eyes darted back and forth as our non-fish eating Maasai colleagues dared each other to take the first try. The repertoire of cuisines kept building from Lebanese to Japanese, American style burgers to over-abundant buffets. Learning was a big part of the weekend.
We travelled an hour north of Nairobi to the farm where Brown’s Cheese has their cows, pigs, shamba and of course, where they make their delicious cheese. As we toured the dairy, we learned about the art and science of cheese making. Of course, sampling all of the cheeses was part of the experience, too. With cheese an important feature of our menus (salads, picnics, cheese boards and more), it was great for the team to see how much love, expertise and hard work goes into making the staggering variety of cheese that Brown’s produces daily.
In just two days, there was a huge transformation in the team: their curiosity rampant and their desire to try more and more new … it was exponential. After visiting a landmark Nairobi Indian snacks shop, with the intention of familiarising ourselves with the various spices, lentils and beans, we walked away with a large bill and an entire back seat of new snacks to try not to mention bags of pistachios and enough saffron to last until the next millennium. And the visit to the butcher? Well, it was like the Holy Land to the staff who think meals are only a meal if meat is the main feature. Who knew how many different cuts of beef there could be? The questions kept on flowing and with each meal, I no longer had to encourage the team to try new dishes off the menu but the other way around. And chopsticks? No problem. Sushi? Bring it on. Nothing was stopping us now. Well, except that we finally hit the tipping point of not-one-mouthful-more.
By the last morning, we were welcoming the opportunity to take some fruit for breakfast and call it a day. But one look at the menu and who could resist ordering the Eggs Benedict or the omelette special? We giggled as we looked at each other and said, “well, just a bite!”
TAGGED WITH: Angama Chefs, Angama Team, Butlers, Chefs, Food, Food tour, Nairobi, Team