Interview With Lake Elmenteitas Head Chef

Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp is situated in Kenya’s magnificent Soysambu Conservancy in the famous Great Rift Valley.  Located less than 2-hours drive from Nairobi, this 48 000 acre, pristine wildlife sanctuary is home to some unique wildlife such as the endangered Rothschild giraffe and over 450 bird species.

It is also where you will find Paul Mwaura, Lake Elmenteita’s 35 year old Head Chef, and having tasted his amazing food we wanted to find out more about the man.

Hi Paul, where did you learn to cook such amazing food?
I attended the National Youth Service School of Catering– Food Production and Service before joining Serena Hotels in the year 2004 as a Junior Chef and rising through the ranks to my current position.

How would you describe the style of your food?
Every chef has a unique style derived from experiences in the culinary journey. I’d describe my style as taste based.
No matter how good food looks it must taste nice and fresh for people to enjoy. That’s why I invest a lot of time in experimenting with different herbs and ingredients to create unique tastes that excite and enhance the taste of food. It’s good to have “standard recipes” but even better to try out new ideas to create fresh meals that people will enjoy hence creating your own uniqueness as a chef.

What do the Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp guests say about your food?
We invest time and spare no effort in ensuring that the product that lands on the guest’s table is high quality and tasty. Hence guest feedback has been very good. We have had guests who demand the same food item over and over again in subsequent visits although we encourage them to try out different ones.

What would you say is the secret to the success of your kitchen?
We take time to source food from the freshest sources and invest in training our staff to ensure they understand our principles and commitment to quality. We also jealously guard and demand only the best from them. No substandard food should land on the guests table. Interacting with guests also help us solicit feedback to ensure continuous improvement incorporating various tastes and preferences. Menus therefore are not static but always changing to ensure changing trends are taken into consideration.

And what would you say has been your biggest achievement to date in your career?
Leading a team of young chefs in setting up the new kitchen and writing up new menus for Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp at the onset- which has been a big success to so far.

What about reaching the position of Head Chef at such a relatively young age?
Serena Hotels has a great succession plan where they prepare their young cooks/ chefs to take up more senior roles through intensive training from both the Group Executive Chef and exposures to sister properties where chefs compare notes on different aspects of culinary art. This prepares everyone for growth.

Finally what do you think you’d be doing if you hadn’t become a chef?I play football as a hobby but would not imagine doing anything else as a career.

So there you have it, Chef Mwaura was clearly born to cook and I for one am glad he does.
You can view a sample of Lake Elmenteita Serena Camp’s mouth-watering menus here.




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