My friend and I were recently at Heron Portico hotel where we had an interview meet up with the head chef Jared Muyale. Chef Jared is a friendly and charismatic guy who was very easy to talk to. He made us some very good late lunch at Mdalasini Restaurant which I’ll review in a separate blogpost.This is what he had to say.
How long have you been a chef?
I’ve been in the industry 15 years and a leader chef for 11 of those.
Have you worked in other countries other than Kenya?
What’s the craziest recipes you ever tried and how did that go?
I’m always trying out crazy recipes because that goes with creativity and chefs have to be creative.
Have you worked in other hotels in Kenya other than Heron Portico?
I’ve worked in David Livingstone lodge in Mara and Italian restaurant in Lavington.
Who are your most esteemed guests?
Ambassadors from Russia, Sloverkia, Serbia and local politicians and government officials.
Does your wife cook?
Yes she does and I enjoy the food made at home. I particularly like traditional vegetables. But when there’s something new I want to try in the kitchen I cook.
Do you get a good percentage of required ingredients locally or do you have to import?
Most of our ingredients are found here. Kenya is one of the countries that is blessed to have just about everything locally.
What is the most exotic food you ever made?
I’ve prepared Chinese cuisine, Thai, Indian, Mexican and Italian.
Which among these is your best?
As a chef you make meals depending on the client. You can’t have a best or worst food because clients are from all over the world.
What drew you to the culinary world?
I’ve had a passion and interested since long time ago. My being in this industry is driven from the heart.
If you hadn’t become a chef, what would you be?
I’d either be a school principal or a lecturer. That is the path that my parents and brothers have all taken. But I always had a different idea of a career especially after turning 22.
How do you ensure that you grow professionally and stay on top of culinary trends?
I keep on learning by going for part time refresher courses. The company also helps me go outside the country to see new ideas from other hotels.
What do you do to unwind?
When I’m not at work I’m preaching and serving God.
What do you personally look out for when you eat out in other restaurants?
I rarely eat out in restaurants but when I do, I look out for something interesting that I’ve not seen before. Things that I’ve seen don’t make any change.
Have you ever thought of starting a reality show in Kenya?
This is something I could easily do, not to be a celeb but to showcase the culinary world in my country. I’ve always admired the idea of teaching people how to cook.
What in your opinion are the 5 must have ingredients in any kitchen?
Soy sauce for oriental dishes, garam masala & jeera for Indian, black pepper and olive oil for continental cuisine.
What’s your favourite Kenyan meal?
Ugali, mchicha (amaranth) and maziwa mala (fermented milk).
What’s the most disappointing food you’ve ever eaten in a hotel and what was your reaction to it?
As mentioned earlier, I rarely eat in hotels. But my worst experience was during our honeymoon in Naivasha when somebody served us raw meat.
What are your food safety procedures at Heron Portico?
We use the standard hygiene process on food handling. We have a food audit that guides on storage end cooking so that the food stays hygienic upto the point where it gets to the guest. This covers clothing, storage, and use of special shoes and gloves while in the kitchen among others. We also strictly follow rules like not having beards, keeping fingernails short, always wearing a hat and obtaining medical certificates which are issued every 6 months by Government officials after tests. Government also comes to check the kitchen impromptu so we stay on toes.