I am Samuel kioko,aged 28 years a Kenyan born in Nairobi, Kenya. I live and work in Kenya and am the first born in a family of four children. Growing up my childhood dream was to be a pilot however fate had it for me to become a chef. My parents lost their jobs when I was at an age of 15yrs, this made me to lack some basic things in life and even at times I would miss my classes. Immediately after my high school I had to go out to look for something to do so that I can help my mum in caring the other siblings. In 2008, I managed to work at a juice company in Ruiru whereby we could load and off load lorries and the little money I got I would help my mum to buy food and pay school fee for my younger siblings. After a few months, I managed to apply as a steward in one of the best restaurant in Nairobi thus artcaffe not knowing that my journey of culinary will start from there. After a month, I was called for an interview and I managed to prove myself. I secured the stewarding chance and started working immediately. As time passed by through God’s grace one of the staff resigned for greener pastures and we were given 2 days to apply for that position. to do so I never had that gut but trust you me I tried my luck and went home to share the story with my parents for prayer purpose. Lucky enough I was chosen to replace him and I was given a one month probation period. I worked tirelessly because I knew home was the worst place to stay and I needed to support my family.
A few months passed and our directors came from Israel with a chef and this was my turning point,she was a lady by the name chef Avivit. She was cool and had food knowledge in her fingertips her visit changed my life and made me view cooking as the best career. She was so charismatic that I could work 12 hrs straight and that’s when I ventured into the kitchen and decide to rise without turning back. I was lucky to get good chefs like chef Wamoto and chef Teddy who groomed me and gave me hope. One night I prepared a meal for a certain guest and the guest was opening a restaurant In Mombasa and he was so happy and he requested the waitress to call me to shake his hand, when I went I thought It was maybe a complain instead he was grateful and gave me his business card. When I called in the morning he told me to meet him,we talked about something, that meeting was to offer me a job opportunity in his upcoming restaurant. So, I resigned and went to work with him for a period of 3 yrs. Doors opened and I got another place thus in Nairobi where am working until now and continuing to grow day by day.
As a young chef having had the experience of working with different ingredients from different parts of Kenya, I must say the African gastronomy has the potential of being appreciated across the world thus if we as chefs go that extra mile of having practical’s, seminars and taking it seriously. In short, we should desire our cuisine to be appreciated more. In Kenya chefs are doing a great job regarding that, Chef Rubia is one of my mentors and he is doing a great job.
Today we visit institutions that offer catering courses and talk to the students we try to nurture them and answer any question that they need to ask about culinary. When I spend time with students in school I usually tell them the importance of our African cuisine and it’s uniqueness.
Food plays a key role in our economy, until we start exporting food to other parts of the world nothing can be done in the fight against poverty in our continent. African food is our livelihood and we must protect it and market it to the rest of the world.
African gastronomy has not been popular because the food has been perceived as having too much oil, carbohydrates and not enough proteins. But we can popularise it by making our beloved African dishes accessible to people around the world and also by creating a demand for African catering by using African ingredients and produce by adapting the recipes to correspond to other international cuisines and also offer variety of taste.