Chef Otuomo Mwafrika is a chef at the Nairobi Hospital in Nairobi. Here, he will show you how to prepare baked chicken served with mukimo. But first, here is a brief profile about him:
How did you become a chef?
I started as a steward in 2005 at Egerton University. Gradually, I began to develop a liking for the kitchen from watching other chefs. This liking matured into a passion for culinary arts. I decided to try my hand at the kitchen. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have developed friendships with numerous professional chefs who acted as mentors. In 2013, I joined the Nairobi Hospital as a chef.
What would you be doing if you were not a chef?
I would be a nutritionist or a sales and marketing manager.
Who is your inspiration?
The chefs who mentored me when I launched my journey. These include Chef Juma and Chef Martin whom I met at the Nairobi Hospital. I am also quite inspired by the celebrity international chef Gordon Ramsey.
Which celebrity would you like to cook a meal for?
President Uhuru Kenyatta. It would be a milestone in the growth of my career as a Kenyan chef. I’d also be honoured to prepare a meal for Andrew Scott Zimmern. He is an American culinary expert, chef, restaurateur and television personality. He has been an active professional chef and food critic since 1975.
Describe your style of cuisine
My style involves the blending of different traditional and modern African cuisines.
What local Kenyan ingredients do you love to use in your dishes?
Dhania, leeks, honey, rice, wheat flour and maize flour.
What are three of your most popular dishes with your clients?
Chapati, honey glazed chicken wings, and pork chops.
When you are at home what do you love to prepare and eat?
Free range chicken also known as kienyeji chicken, chapatti and managu
What is the nicest thing a client has said to you?
‘I won’t say I like your meal. I’ll say I love your meal.’ By making this distinction, the customer made it known that she couldn’t wait to taste more. It also gave me the inspiration and vindication that my skills were on the right track.
What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened in your line of work?
In my early days, I severely burnt my right hand while on duty. The burn serves as a reminder of how far I have come from.
Share suggestions / tips for teaching Kenyans to cook.
No one steps into the kitchen and emerges with a great meal in a day. Perfecting culinary skills is a gradual process of trials and errors. Take your time and learn, and include locally available fresh ingredients. They can make a lot of difference in a meal.
How to prepare baked chicken served with mukimo
1/2 tablespoon of white pepper
1/2 tablespoon crushed garlic
3 tablespoon corn oil
1/8 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1/8 tablespoon turmeric powder
1/4 tablespoon Spanish paprika
Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in a bowl to come up with marinade
Put the chicken in the marinade (for best results, let it stay in the marinade overnight in a fridge)
Pre-heat the oven at a temperature of 180 degrees. Put the chicken on a baking tray and bake till golden brown for 30-45 minutes.
Once the chicken is ready, prepare and serve with mukimo (Prepared with fresh Irish potatoes, a handful of pumpkin leaves, and fresh maize off the cob).