My name is chef Samuel Gathu Mbugua, I’m 26 years old Kenyan, born and bred, and I live in Kenya.
I attained my Kenya certificate of primary education in the year 2005 in Oloolua primary school in Ngong and joined Oloolua secondary school in 2006-2009 and later joined IHTI in May 2011 when I started my culinary course.
Most of my childhood I spent at my grandma’s farm in Nyandarua that’s where I grew up and most of my fond memories are from the farm so I consider myself a farm boy and that’s where my love of the arts blossomed. At the age of 12 I was rearing rabbits for meat I had over 100 rabbits and only sold 1 at kshs. 80 at that time so all the rest were for the family to eat and I found joy in that. The reason I started to rear them was because we had caught a hare with my uncle and my grandma cooked it so well, I swear I had never tasted meat so divine and I knew I needed to have a steady supply of it note hare meat tastes bit different from rabbit meat but it was close enough for my young palate. I taught myself how to slaughter, skin, hang and butcher them and that alone brought the need to have sharp knives and so I begun to sharpen knives. In high school I took up home science as a subject and I remember I was the only male student in a class of 13 but that didn’t stop me from doing what I love and I was the best student when it came to cookery practicals to the point that the school entrusted me with the cooking for the B.O.G & P.T.A meetings. But the main push came when I was in form 2 where we had a disagreement with my father before he passed on about me always being in our little kitchen so I went out on fact finding so to prove my point that men can also cook and that’s when I discovered of the existence of the likes of Chef Ramsey and I made it my mission to work hard in that field so I can prove it to him. Later that year I lost my dad to cancer and it pushed me harder hope he is watching from the heavens. When I left high school I did a year of acting and later joined college and we used to do part time gigs all over Nairobi and we frequented the UN offices in Gigiri Nairobi and that’s where on evening when we were clocking out I met my dad’s old friend old friend from the army my dad was a navy, and he shed some light to a lot of things his first question after he confirmed I was Gathu was “so you became a chef like your old man” I didn’t know he was the platoons chef, so those were some of my encounters.
As stated above, I started training in May 2011 under the instructions of Chef Moses Ludava and Chef Isaac Mutula who impacted a lot of knowledge and wisdom to us. I didn’t start working part time until we were called for our first function by Sarova Stanley’s on 1 Friday afternoon it was an impromptu call and we reported at 1800h at their kitchens where were given the instructions of what to do and the function was happening at the arboretum gardens it was safaricom classical fusion, and we were under the directive of the Sous chef by then chef Avraj. That night I was tasked with the grilling of the steaks for close to 500 pax my biggest assignment I had gotten before I even cleared my second semester. I n December 17th 2011 I joined Osteria Del Chianti for my 1st internship and I started in service under the management of Mr. Maurizio Fregoni and a month and half later I joined the kitchen team under Chef Osman Askoy who inspired me a lot I stayed with Osteria till April where I was to go back to school for my second year but I deferred on semester due to lack of fees and continued to work for Osteria where I was transferred to their branch in Karen (now closed) and I worked as their pastry chef for 4 more months and resumed classes. I worked as a part time chef and waiter on night shifts and weekends in different establishments like café royal( they catered for the UN offices in Nairobi),after I resumed classes and upon finishing my second year in 2013 I joined the Governor’s camp for my final internship . I started at their house in loldia farm Naivasha and later went to the little governors’ camp in the Maasai Mara. I finished my internship on the January 2014 and I came back to Nairobi and begun my freelance job worked with mells kitchen a mobile smoker grill company and did a lot of event catering. Mid 2014 I attended the hospitality trade fair held at the kick and got the chance to get on stage with Kenya’s celebrity chef Ali together with chef Don from Sarova Panafric, Chef Raphael and chef Rubia. Later on I got called for an interview to work for a new startup restaurant in rongai called the siron place where I worked as the junior Sous chef as team we were tasked with equipping, starting and running the kitchen. I later left and decided to focus on my freelance job and in 2016 I enlisted with an agency for freelancers called lynk.co.ke they have been connecting me with my clients.
Africa is a beautiful continent with a lot to offer in terms of food and culture, the available foods are fresh and have a soul that speaks to you as a chef all you need to do is listen keenly and they will guide your spirit to creating beautiful dishes . I have been inspired by different chefs over the years whom I have been following in my culinary quest the likes of the chef Rolf (the Rolf’s place), chef Neil Anthony from S.A. among others.
My main style of cooking is what calls fusion cooking and I mostly do inter cuisine like an Indian inspired Italian menu. I m also working on bringing back the traditional African foods on a modern plate it’s a project that will be unveiled soon.
Getting young chefs not only to follow the ready available recipes but to think without the box totally, get them thinking and working on their feet this is art with the best resources from mother Africa.