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Wanjira Longauer is in a mood for tastings

Chef Wissem Abdellatif cooks good foie gras

The fine dining club everyone wants to be in

Vol.4.4 April 2018













Katy Fentress discovers she doesn’t really know much about fine dining, so polls her friends and colleagues to figure out what, in their opinions, this type of eating out actually is.

Putting together a single theme monthly food magazine is a rollercoaster of emotions. I find there are always clear phases of the journey. These can be best described at the inception and brainstorming phase - to which I often come feeling confident I know much about what there is to know on the subject. The research and fieldwork phase - the more I find out, the less I realise I knew all along. The production and exposition phase - the point at which I have to put all these findings together and then squeeze my brain for something relevant and mildly intelligent to say. And finally the rejection phase - whatever the theme, be it meat, sweets, booze or fine dining, by the time I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, I experience a total rejection of the topic in question. As a result, at the end of the grilling issue I swore to become vegetarian, at the end of the booze issue I swore never to drink again, as the sweets issue drew to a close I vowed to avoid sugars forever and ever and now for the fine dining issue, I am determined I will only eat burgers, chips and pizzas until the end of my days. Inevitably, my resolutions don’t really last more than a week but it does leave me wondering how on earth people who work on one project for months and years on end can stand

to be in contact with the object of their research for such long periods of time. The big question of the month has been what is fine dining? To answer this I polled friends and colleagues trying to see if there was a consensus. Generally, the people seemed to all concur that fine dining was primarily about cutlery, ambiance, dress code and etiquette. To a lesser extent, people indicated small portions, high expense and special dishes as also being important. Two answers I feel really bear mentioning. The first, by Yummy contributor Amal Mohamed, had me and Pete (our photographer and my dining companion for most of this month’s gourmet culinary journey) in stitches of laughter throughout. Fine dining is, according to her: S*#t I can’t make myself, S*#t I can’t pronounce, in an ambiance I wouldn’t know how to replicate at home. On a more intellectual note, my learned friend Moritz Kasper did such a good job of describing what fine dining is today, that I feel no need to add anything onto his definition myself. Fine dining, according to Kasper, always comes with a certain level of exclusivity. While it varies according to the local context, this exclusivity is primarily created by financial factors and other more social constraints. Fine dining, he goes on to

explain, creates a special experience, a spectacle so to speak, that elevates the dining as a happening above the everydays of the consumer and her/his regular means of food consumption. In sum, fine dining creates a level of excellence that justifies the expenses that will inevitably be incurred. Another question I asked my international networks was about how the concept of fine dining translated to other languages and cultures. Here too the answers were quite revealing. The Germans have a term which roughly translates as “elevated eating”, the Italians and Israelis don’t really have a precise label and are content with terms like “a meal fit for kings” or simply an “expensive, classy or gourmet meal” while the Japanese have a term which instead covers the whole experience from the ambiance, the foods, the quality and the service. Fine dining then, as most people understand it, is the direct product of the French and subsequent Anglo traditions, something I discuss in more detail in my feature “Nairobi Finesse” on page 39. Elsewhere in our fine dining special, Susan Wong appreciates the easy charm of Sikia fine dining restaurant [p30], Ivy Nyayieka discovers there is more than one way to eat fatty goose liver [p35], Winnie Wangui interviews the member of a veritable society of

fine dining [p29] and the team put together a tongue in cheek list of the do’s and don’ts of fine dining in the 20th century [p33]. For our “Culinary Escape” section, radio presenter Wanjira Longauer longs to be back at her recent wine tasting in Stellenbosch South Africa [p27] while for our Cocktail Hour segment [p46], Leroy Buliro pokes fun at us women in the office, with his hilarious article on a cognac tasting we were treated to earlier in the month. There really is so much to say and so little space to say it in. I think the question of what is fine dining really does come at a good time when Nairobi is grappling with questions related to its own culinary identity and our burgeoning restaurant scene. Hopefully, we will come back to all of this at a later point (but not before I’ve stuffed my face with decidedly un-fine junk food for a while)!

You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy a good glass of wine, argues Katy Fentress, who is happy to have passed the responsibility of curating this month’s wine section to someone unarguably more qualified than her.

Follow Katy on IG: @lakitchenwitch

Katy Fentress Katy Fentress Editor In Chief Editor In Chief



CONTENTS 36 FIT FOR KINGS Chef Wissem Abdellatif brings his own brand of culinary ingenuity to the Chophouse kitchen at Radisson Blu hotel.

FINGER ON THE PULSE 10 News and Events 12 New Restaurants 15 EatOut Picks: Mother Dearest 16 Kahawa Diaries: Paul Onditi 18 In Conversation: Hot to Trot 20 Foodies We Love: Dine with Jemutai TRIED AND TESTED 25 Ask a Wino: Price Comparisons 30 Susan Eats: Sikia Fine Dining 49 Man About Town: All in a Name 54 In a Pickle: Experimental Dining DINING FINE 29 Q&A: Members Only at Chaine de Rotisseurs 33 Do’s and Don’t of Fine Dining 45 Story of Meal: Icy Endings EAT AND IMBIBE 23 Wine Festival FAQ 25 Wine Corner: Luxury inc 36 Cocktail Hour: Very Special Indeed 56 Around Africa: Swahili Pizza

39 36 NAIROBI FINESSE Global fine dining trends are changing faster than you can say the word ”gourmet”. So how is our green city in the sun sizing up?

YUMMY Vol. 4.4 · April 2018 · PUBLISHED BY EATOUT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. MANAGING DIRECTOR Mikul Shah GM Michelle Slater EDITOR IN CHIEF: Katy Fentress STAFF WRITER Winnie Wangui EDITORIAL INTERN Ivy Nyayieka CONTRIBUTORS Jackson Biko, Josiah Kahiu, Marah Koberle, Wanjira Longauer, Anyiko Owoko, Susan Wong DESIGN John Njoroge, Brian Siambi DIGITAL TEAM: Fred Miwthiga, Sylvia Onsoti DISTRIBUTION Leroy Buliro SALES, MARKETING & OPERATIONS Daniel Muthiani, Devna Vadgama, Gilbert Chege, Jane Naitore, Joy Wairimu, Susan Gathara, Vanessa Wanjiku PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Ndung’u IT Douglas Akula, Erick Kiiya, Asim Mughal SALES INQUIRIES Call Yummy, 0711 22 22 22 EMAIL PRINTED BY English Press


6. 6.





This month the Yummy “fieldwork and research team” were thoroughly wined and dined by some of our city’s finest chefs. Masters in their arts, these men (we still await the time in which we can say “men and women”) pulled out all the stops to make sure we got to sample the best of the best Nairobi has to offer in terms of gourmet dining. A special mention goes out to them here, before you go on to read all about their accomplishments in our fine dining section.

ARIS ATHANASIOU-TATU Hailing from the Greek city of Athens, Chef Aris studied culinary arts on the island of Cyprus and spent time working in Spain, Germany and Serbia before coming to Tatu restaurant at the Norfolk Fairmont. One of our three “Chef’s Tables” spotlights, he believes that fine dining is all about elevating service, quality and food.

ALAN MURUNGI - SIERRA Head Chef, Master Brewer and CEO are all hats which Chef Alan proudly wears everyday. His love for craft beer which began in Bangkok saw him attend a Master Brewer’s programme at the University of California. Mastering the art of grilling and everything to do with wine, his favourite food destination is France.

GODFREY OUDA -THE STANLEY 25 years ago, Chef Godfrey started as a casual labourer at a restaurant. His keen interest in cooking eventually led him to becoming Executive Chef at The Stanley, a position he’s held for nine years. His style involves experimenting with different flavours and textures then blending them to develop something memorable.

KENNETH MUSYOKA- SIKIA Better known as Chef Ken, he is a budding chef with over 8 years experience which includes the Windsor Golf Resort and Intercontinental Hotel Nairobi. As the Junior Sous Chef at Sikia Fine Dining Restaurant, his culinary innovations provide menu items that go far beyond the fine dining norm.

LUCKY WINNER WISSEM ABDELLATIF- CHOPHOUSE Tunisian-born Chef Wissem has been on Nairobi’s Radisson Blu team for nearly a year now. Before this, he worked at the Radisson Blu in Congo Brazzaville. He is passionate about ensuring that, while bringing his own personal touch to the food he makes at Chophouse, he learns the local palate and creates the best fusions.


The 27 year old performance artist and coach, Prisca Ojwang’ was extremely thrilled when she received communication of being our random Dinner For Two voucher winner. She plans on treating her partner to a dinner date.

To participate answer the following question: What is an oenologist and what is Yummy’s in-house one’s name? Email your answer to: by April 30th (the winner will be selected at random)



Ingredients • • • •

2 cups of Hostess maize flour 3 cups of milk 1 cup of coconut milk 60g parmesan cheese


• • • •

Pinch of salt 1 tbsp butter 1 tsp ground cumin Deep frying oil


• Bring milk and coconut milk to boil in a large enough pot. Season with salt and ground cumin and then add the maize flour. Stir continuously to break any lumps. • Stir evenly for 3-4 minutes until evenly mixed and the mixture starts to thicken. Add parmesan cheese and butter and mix well. Pour the mixture on a flat tray and even out with a wet spoon. • Freeze for about 20 minutes. Take the frozen dough and cut it into stabs of French Fries. Dip in hot oil and fry until they are golden brown. Take out the ready fries and rest them on absorbent paper. • Serve with your favourite dip.




The Kenya Derby

Pull your fancy hats out of the closet, shake the dust off your best dresses, the grandstands at the Ngong Race Course Derby await you! On the 22nd April from 12pm to 6pm there will be food stations, live entertainment and kiddie activities. Grandstand tickets cost Ksh. 200 while the VIP Marquee cost Ksh. 5,500. Book your spot via Mpesa on: 0700 187 115.


Makadem, Live At J’s Westlands

Ohangla fans, the energetic live performances by the sensational artist and talented musician Makadem are a one of a kind experience. If you’ve seen him once you’ll know what we are talking about. Dance along to his soulful folk ballads at J’s Westlands on Saturday 28th April from 10pm onwards. Book your table on 0707 612 585. Entry is Free.


Wine Pairing Dinner at Tamambo Karen Blixen

On a visit from his stronghold at the Tamarind Dhow restaurant in Mombasa, Chef Patrick Stromvall will, on the 30th April, be serving up a five course wine pairing dinner at the Tamambo Karen Blixen Coffee Garden from 7pm to 10pm. Charges are Ksh. 6,500 per person for early birds and Ksh. 7,250 per person for late bookings. To book your spot, call 0719865481.







The Shack’s Towering Burgers Burger lovers pay attention! The Shack at Nairobi West’s Magharibi Place is fast becoming the ultimate not-so-secret spot for anyone craving some dripping savoury goodness in a soft bun. They have a variety of creativelycrafted burgers to suit all the different tastes, including the signature Shack Tower, the Cuckoo Shack and the Paneer Shack. Oh and they deliver, which is all any of us would ask of our favorite burger restaurants.

FANTASTIC FOUR Global five star hotel opens

Mövenpick opened in Nairobi adding more accommodation options for business travellers and tourists. Foodies also have a reason to celebrate as it brings along four new restaurants: The View, serves up Swiss cuisine and 360 degrees panoramic views of Nairobi; Baluba, a multi cuisine all day dining restaurant; La Mesa, a Latin tapas and Kijani bar, which offers signature cocktails, and after work drinks overlooking the pool.

TACOTASTIC In and Out at Taco

There are many reasons people seem unable to escape the pull of this Village Market taco stand. Maybe it’s their vegan-friendly kale and butternut tacos, the dripping pulled pork or crunchy fried fish ones, maybe it’s the margaritas which despite being served in a plastic glass are delicious and leave you happy after one and wobbling after two. Or maybe it’s their super cool mismatched Mexican style tiles. Who knows. Point is: they’re delicious. See you there!


(Sushi Soo Westlands Branch)

FOOD TRAIN by Sushi Soo

Japanese Foods Today?


SASHIMI & SUSHI from ksh. 800


It’s not just dinner

It’s Entertainment!

Ground Floor, Kenrail Tower, Ring Road, Parklands, Nairobi

CALL: 0714 112 233





MOTHER DEAREST She is sophisticated, she is all-knowing, sometimes she can be judgemental although only in the most well-meaning of ways. Don’t get her angry as the sting will be strong but nothing compares to her warm embrace. Of course one day, the 13th of May to be exact, will never be enough to celebrate our adored mum, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use this yearly occasion as an excuse to spend some quality time together. Preferably over a meal that shows exactly how much you care and, while you are at it, a nice glass of wine! ABOUT THYME (WESTLANDS) Whether for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, About Thyme’s fantastic menu will have mummy smiling all through. The cosy, yet intimate ambiance will definitely play a major role in your celebration. In fact, you can even throw in some bubbly for good measure.

TALISMAN (KAREN) Tickle her discerning taste buds with a trip to Talisman. Taste their sushi flown in fresh from Lamu or go all out with some Norwegian salmon. Fish not really her cup of tea? In that case indulge in one of their delicious steaks over a glass of wine from their extensive list!

PAN ASIAN YAO (GIGIRI) If Chinese is what she fancies, then the classic Chinese dishes with a European twist at this Gigiri spot will have her heading there every other day. From making her own broth at the hot pot station to the delicious cocktails available, she will thank you for the unforgettable treat.

LORD ERROLL (RUNDA) If she loves her cuppa, then a fancy high tea brunch at The Lord Erroll would be the highlight of her year. Lots of different types of teas, pastries and the serene gardens offer the perfect backdrop for chatter and some good laughs over a trip down memory lane.

THE MAYURA (THE HUB KAREN, KENRAIL TOWERS WESTLANDS) Try something new and make new memories at The Mayura relishing their creative dishes that are a fusion of traditional Indian dishes and modern contemporary meals. They have two convenient locations at The Hub, Karen and Kenrail Towers, Westlands.

ZEN GARDEN (SPRING VALLEY) Help her relax and forget her mothering worries in the tranquillity of the airy and stylish Zen Garden open patio. Draw your meal out by ordering dim sum, delicious dumplings and sushi for hours on end, while you sip on their creative Asianinspired cocktails.

Find out more by downloading the EatOut App in order to enjoy amazing discounts at these and more restaurants around the city




DORMANS KAHAWA ALLSTARS Paul Onditi, one of a handful of Kenyan artists whose work was showcased at last year’s Venice Biennale of Art, describes his art as Afro-European and swears that both Ohangla and Classical music styles are essential for his creative process. He talks to Ivy Nyayieka about his journey from artistic kindergartener to successful artist with a long list of solo and group shows in Kenya, Europe and the U.S to his name. How would you describe your work? My work is a rather personal observation on the things I see and hear as well as my experiences both with people and the environment. So I try to interpret these into something visual How do you like your coffee? I like my coffee mild, not tough. What is your favorite breakfast meal? My favourite breakfast meal is broccoli soup. To wake up, I also like to have Kenyan coffee that is very crude and not refined. That has been my long term favourite. Which would you prefer: coffeeflavored ice cream or coffeeflavored cake? I would go for coffee-flavored ice cream. What was the first form of art you engaged with?


When I went to nursery school, I did not have the privilege to have paper and crayons. Paint was not even within my imagination. I would go outside, get some dust and draw. I would call my mother, then a schoolteacher, to come and see. I hoped that she was going to like it as much as I did. I didn’t study Art in high school. I took Technical Drawing & Design, courtesy of my father who insisted on something professional. So today when it comes to composition, I can balance symmetry and asymmetry without a ruler. Who is Smokey in your work? Smokey is a representational character that I have worked with for many years in different backgrounds and scenes. He is a solitary character representing the state of human mind. There are little corners within my mind that only I access. And that’s the vacuum that I have been trying to understand. Smokey is not present in the pieces at the moment; he’s gone

for a journey. Maybe he will show up. I don’t know. That is up to him to decide.

abandoned them. Then we thought, without proper research, we were doing something new.

Why do you call your art AfroEuropean? I’m Kenyan-- born and bred. But I happened to have rediscovered myself as an artist when in Europe. I say rediscover because I was born an artist; I was not meant to be taught to become one. Then since Kenya didn’t have these solid institutions where someone could study art, I found myself in Europe. My art is now a fusion of what is inborn, which is very African and what is acquired, which is European.

Who are you listening to as you work? I’m listening to Ohangla music. It is my favourite. But I have a huge music collection so I keep shifting. When I need some local inspiration I listen to Ohangla and Rhumba. When I need to move faster then I have pretty aggressive classical music. This studio is a big spot of chaos so I DJ for myself.

What is the role of old media releases and imagery in your work? The old recurrence within my work is just to show that nothing is new under the sun. When I was in high school, bell bottoms came into fashion. But our fathers also had worn bell bottoms, got bored and

What are you working on now? What I am working on right now is a project dubbed Calm in The Storm. It interrogates how I navigate times when there’s a lot of political confusion, social animosity and economic hardships. Follow Paul Onditi on IG: @ paulonditismokey



dormanscoffee @dormans_coffee @dormanscoffee



Yemi Alade will for the first time embark on her biggest music tour that will cut across about 15 European countries


HOT TO TROT Publicist to the stars Anyiko Owoko dined with Africa’s leading lady in entertainment Yemi Alade right after her performance at Koroga Festival March edition, that thrilled an audience of 20,000 – the festival’s best yet! The Nigerian songstress reviews the concert as she reveals exclusively to Yummy details on her upcoming gospel album and European tour.


ou would think that after her vigorous performance at Koroga, Yemi Alade would be sleeping or resting in the hours after the show. Wrong. Later that evening we meet at Tamarind Hotel’s restaurant at a cosy corner. No other guests around us. She’s very calm, cool and collected and has removed the tower-like hairdo she wore at the concert and is now tying a turban on her head. Self-proclaimed Mama Africa, Yemi Alade thrives in her expression of Afrocentrism. In a witty yet pensive mood, she confides: “I am so blessed that Africa has embraced me and I have embraced Africa—Africa chose me.” Accompanied by her acclaimed live band - Oversabi Band, her traditional male dancers and a backup vocalist, the team is in synchrony as they deliver on killer moves backed by big beats and incredible stage lighting. It’s a performance it is almost impossible not to want to make a point of describing her as an African Beyoncé. “Having 20,000 people come see me at the festival makes me thank God that this is happening in my Africa!” she tells me after making her order. “It felt as if people had made up their minds to come have fun and entertain themselves alongside what I was going to offer. It’s like being in a relationship with someone and meeting for the first time – that’s how I felt to meet my fans. It was good vibes.” In 2017 alone, Yemi released two albums: Mama Afrique EP and Black Magic album. She tells me that the plan by her label: Effyzzie Music Group was initially to release three albums in 2017. “I am still working on a gospel album,” she reveals, “and it will be showcasing my vocal range.” She is adamant there is a release date but teases cheekily that we should expect a drop anytime, seeing as she’s got enough songs for three more albums in the vault. Yemi Alade and her Talent Manager: Taiye Aliyu from Effyzzie Music Group, are unstoppable firecrackers and will move stealthily to conquer the

next available fan base, country by country. From April to May 2018, alongside Oversabi Band, Yemi Alade will for the first time embark on her biggest music tour that will cut across about 15 European countries. They are also planning tours across Canada and Australia later in the year. She says, “I think this is the highest venue list for any African artiste in Europe,” adding that, “We might be adding or reducing some of the dates so we don’t over stretch ourselves.” She states that no matter where she performs, she always feels at home. “At all of my headlining concerts across the globe, right from when you see people queuing up to enter the venue you see that they have African adornments, accessories and head wraps or something African—basically it’s like I am performing to an African crowd. They are always in tune like they got the memo. No matter where I go I feel like I am performing to an African crowd.” In the next few years, Yemi promises to deliver constant hits. “That’s for sure,” she asserts, adding that she is also passionate about helping more communities living in slum areas. In Nigeria, she has been working with communities from Makoko Slum, partly elevated on a lagoon. Yemi says, “My team and I work on getting them basic things to get them going like clothes, just so they can at least go to work.” Looking back at her childhood upbringing, Yemi Alade credits her work ethic to her parents who she says were hard workers. “They never wanted me and my siblings to see them hustling.” That, her unmatched work ethic and an amazing team, she says is her driving force. “I will not downplay that I am also very passionate about my career and how much of a good impact I want to leave in the world. Thank you to all those that see me as an inspiration.” Her brand, she concludes, is a result of choosing wisely and picking the things that work for her. “I am human and I also make mistakes, which I learn from.” A humbling statement from such a global star.





LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE Ingredients 1 Cup Unsalted Butter 1 Cup Caster Sugar 4 Eggs 1 Cup Self Raising (Sifted) Finely Grated Zest 1 Lemon Lemon Drizzle Syrup 3 – 4 oz Caster Sugar Juice of 1 & ½ Lemons Lemon Drizzle Icing ½ Cup Icing Sugar ¼ Cup Lemon Juice

FOODIES WE LOVE: DINE WITH JEMUTAI Sylvia Jemutai (@dinewithjemutai) has been one of our favourite food bloggers for a while. With a profile that pops with overhead shots packed with vibrant color, you wouldn’t be judged for wanting a bite out of each snap!


ver since we came across her page, we have been bowled over by Sylvia Jemutai who we feel has one of the most aesthetically inspiring instagram profiles we have seen in a while. She manages to turn the simplest of shots into a visual trigger that sets off your cravings with every flick of the thumb. The 30 year old food photographer, food stylist, digital content creator and curator of is a silent force to be reckoned with. For as long as she can remember, Sylvia has always enjoyed cooking. Already as a child she had big hopes of becoming a professional chef. With time and after a few twists and turns, her path led her to food photography and she has not looked back ever since. It has not been an overnight success


however, she has been fine tuning her skills for over an year now and is always looking for new and creative ways to shoot beautiful imagery and tell her story. “Being able to share my creations and foodie experiences with people that have similar interests is exciting” she says. “There is a lot to be grateful for but I would have to say all the people I have met along the way have made an impact on my journey and career so thus far each interaction has been pretty memorable” So what’s next for Dine With Jemutai? Currently, she has been focused on building her brand, working on her food styling and creative direction for her client work. “There is so much to be done it scares me at times. I really want Dine With Jemutai to grow further than just the

blog and venture out into entertaining and education” she explains. When it comes to eating out, she’s never one to shy away from a delicious meal at a nice restaurant. Besides the ambiance, the food and location, customer service is at the top of her list when checking off what makes a restaurant experience memorable. When her budget allows and when the mood is right, a fine dining experience is not to be missed. Her top five restaurants for a night of delicious dining are Talisman, Dusit’s Soi, Sankara’s Graze, Urban Eatery and Radisson Blu’s Chophouse. When she’s not running around working, or photographing her latest work, Sylvia is a sucker for desserts and if you are too, you’ll love her Lemon Drizzle Cake Recipe.

Method 1. Preheat oven to 150˚C. Beat together softened unsalted butter and caster sugar until pale and creamy, then add 4 eggs, one at a time, slowly mixing through. 2. Sift in the flour, then add finely grated zest of 1 lemon and mix until well combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter if you’re using an electric mixer. 3. Line a springform cake time with baking paper, then spoon in the mixture and level it out with a spoon. 4. Bake for 40-45 mins until a toothpick/skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. While the cake is baking, mix together the juice of 1 1/2 lemons and caster sugar to make the lemon drizzle syrup. 5. While the cake is still warm use a toothpick to prick small holes in the cake then spoon over the syrup. The syrup will sink into the cake giving it a lovely moist spongy texture. Leave it in the tin to cool. (If you’re not in a rush leave it overnight before you ice it for more flavour. 6. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl and add the lemon juice, stirring until smooth. Remove the cake from the tin, Using a spoon drizzle the icing mixture over the cake pouring some over the edges for the ‘drizzle’ effect. Let it set for 10 mins before you serve. Keep refrigerated for 4-5 days.

There’s a new deli very service in town


a monthly box of wine



we celebrated the Spring Equinox


Last month

Sign up to our phantastic wine club for


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curated by our expert team & delivered right to your door.

Each box that lands on your doorstep will be packed with an exhilarating range of tasty wines, spilling over with interesting facts & tips about each one. And every month, Chef Anthony Huth pairs one of the bottles of wine with a mouth-watering recipe of unadulterated deliciousness.

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NAIROBI WINE WEEK & FESTIVAL What to Expect The first ever Nairobi Wine Week will be happening at over 30 participating restaurants in Nairobi and will be kicking off with a two day festival on 5th and 6th at J’s Fresh Bar and Kitchen Westlands. The festival, which is a first of its kind, will see wine lovers sample great wines from over three continents, provided by an extensive list of distributors who will be offering samples and bottles for sale as well. The following week from 5th to 13th May, will see the commencement of Nairobi Wine Week, at over 30 participating restaurants. Restaurants will be offering wine deals including a complimentary glass of wine for every main course, two for one deals on glasses of wine and 25% discounts off wine bottles for the 10 days. For more information and the full list of participating restaurants visit;

WHAT IS NAIROBI WINE WEEK? Nairobi Wine Week is an annual promotion that provides two for one deals on glasses of wine and percentage discounts on wine bottles at select restaurants for a limited time. WHEN IS NAIROBI WINE WEEK 2018? Nairobi Wine Week will take place from May 5th to May 13th. Over 30 restaurants will be participating for 10 days.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Participating restaurants will provide either a complimentary glass of wine for every main course, or a two for one deal on glasses of wine or 25% off bottles of wine for the week long duration. WHAT IS THE NAIROBI WINE FESTIVAL? As part of Nairobi Wine Week, Nairobi Wine Festival is a two day festival, happening on Saturday 5th May and

Sunday 6th May at J’s Fresh Bar and Kitchen Westlands from 12pm to 7pm. Wine lovers who attend the festival will sample a great selection wines from more than 3 continents and also get a chance to buy bottles of wine from the over 10 wine distributors.

tickets inclusive of a goody bag are Ksh. 3000. There will be no tickets at the gate so be sure to get yours earlier.

HOW DO I ATTEND THE NAIROBI WINE FESTIVAL? Early bird tickets cost Ksh. 1000 and Advance tickets, Ksh. 1500, VIP



FRANSCHHOEK OUR TOWN CHARDONNAY WESTERN CAPE Ksh. 1,200 Aroma: Attractive pineapple and lemon and lime fruit Palate: Pineapple and lemon and lime fruit Serving Suggestion: Delicious with chicken à la king, veal parmigiana, pasta alfredo, grilled calamari or roast pork.

CASTILLO DE MOLINA CABERNET SAUVIGNON- RRP 1853 CHILE Ksh. 1,853 Aroma: Raspberries, cherries, berries and ripe fruit like plum, licorice and blackberries; and notes of spices, tobacco and vanilla. Palate: Good structure and volume, ripe and soft tannins leading to a long and persistent finish. Serving Suggestion Red meats and semi-ripe cheeses.

ANGOVES SHIRAZ CABERNET SOUTH AUSTRALIA Ksh. 1, 858 Aroma: Dark cherry, cassis and plum. Palate: Follow from the aromas with additional chocolate, subtle oak and a soft, earthy finish. Serving Suggestion Red meat, cheeses or vegan ravioli Vegan Friendly.

CONSIGNA TEMPRANILLOVINO DE LA TIERRA DE CASTILLA-SPAIN Ksh. 909 Aroma:Red berries, with hints of violet and concentrated black fruits. Palate: Ripe tannins with a touch of toasted oak Serving Suggestion: Meat or pâté

KANONKOP KADETTE CAPE BLEND SOUTH AFRICA Ksh. 2,053 Aroma: Notes of blackcurrant, tea leaves, and vanilla spice Palate: Fresh acidity with drying appetizing finish Serving Suggestion: When chilled, ideal with seafood, when served room temperature, ideal with meat or Italian cuisine



Can I tell the difference between a Ksh.1000 bottle of wine and a Ksh 10,000 one? Alexis Owuor, 27

LUXURY INC. Josiah Kahiu is determined to make the most of his questions during a recent meal with the Moët & Chandon Champagne brand ambassador.


hat do you ask the brand ambassador of one of the most influential Champagne houses of the world? This was my dilemma when, the other day, I had the fortune of sharing a table at Villa Rosa Kempinsky with Pierre-Louis Arnaud, a Moët & Chandon champagne brand ambassador on a whirlwind PR tour of Nairobi. I decided to launch my conversation with the obvious: “how do you pronounce Moët & Chandon?”. To my surprise, I discovered that mo-ette is in fact the most correct pronunciation, something I took pride in informing my other half of, later on that day. Eager to get the most out of my prized seat at the table, I proceeded to quiz Arnaud on the history of this most iconic of bubblies. Happy to oblige, he regaled me with tales of how Moët & Chandon was established in 1743 by a man of Dutch origin who went by the name of Claude Moët. During that period,

Arnaud told me, it was not uncommon to see royals drinking Champagne in the halls of Versailles and somehow Mr Moët’s brand caught the attention of the King of France Louis XV, who’s love for Champagne was only parallelled by his love of science. Not to be left behind, as the popularity of the brand grew, the English court across the sea also bought into the hype. Before long Moët & Chandon was the only Champagne that could be served to Queen Elizabeth, the reigning British monarch of the time. Racking my brains for another question, I directed my attention to memorable moments captured on film, specifically to the famous “popping of the cork as a celebration” and wondered when that actually became a “thing”. It was not until the 1967 Le Mans car race - an early version of the Grand Prix, that this tradition was established, Arnaud told me, adding that, of course, it was a bottle Moët & Chandon that was “popped and sprayed” to celebrate the victory of Dan Gurny, the

American driver who won the race. Prior to then, bottles of Moët had been paraded around for years. From noble royalty to what we see as modern royalty, celebrities, Moët was firmly established as the epitome of luxury. “You see”, Arnaud carefully explained, “Moët has always been seen as 100% wine and 100% luxury. There are very few wines or products in the world that have been consistently synonymous with pleasure, celebrations and creating memories”. So how does this relate to the newer generation of Champagne drinkers I wanted to know. “The new generation want to be part of creating moments and sharing memories, this is where Moët stands out. The new generation is 30 years plus, are used to spontaneity, have information at their fingertips and appreciate quality, authenticity and luxury.” This, I thought to myself, can easily relate to the up and coming Nairobi crowd.

Ooh this is a tough one let’s try to keep it short! The simplest answer is: it depends who is buying. That said, even the most experienced of wine connoisseurs can be fooled during a blind tasting. There have been numerous studies done on this topic and the findings may surprise you. An interesting paper I once read by the American Association of Wine Economists, found that in blind tastings with “regular” people, the majority prefered cheaper wines as opposed to more expensive wines. On the flip side, people with wine training had the opposite reaction but not to the degree that you would think. Among the more knowledgeable recipients, there was a slight positive correlation between price and taste. Experts have found that a considerable percentage of people prefer an expensive wine to a cheap wine if they are informed about it beforehand. As with many other commodities we consume, wine price equates to value. The key thing when choosing your bottle, is to find out what is suitable to your palate as opposed to what you think will impress your date. After all, only a very small percentage of the population buys expensive wine to drink alone. Chances are, you will be more disappointed with an expensive wine after you drink it, simply because of the fact that it has messed up your monthly budget. As my wine professor put it when I asked him about buying wine for a semi special night - “stick to your lane and you are guaranteed the best experience and don’t let price alone inform you decision”. Have a question about wine? DM Josiah on IG @knife_and_wine



VINEYARD ADVENTURES What better way to spend a vacation than going to the source of one of the things you love most in the world? Or so thinks Capital FM Radio presenter Wanjira Longauer, on a recent trip to South African wine country.


n much the same way children get excited about unwrapping their toys on Christmas, I get excited about trying a new grape. A fermented one, that is. I like wine, a lot. I’ve imbibed the stuff for a few years now. My parents, who supported the findings that wine helps in digestion when accompanied with food, gave me small amounts of it in little Sherry glasses during dinner from the time I was about 11 years old. In adulthood, I often wondered what the hell those glasses were used for before serving wine to me since we literally never used them for anything else. Wine has always been a way of life, and, in my humble opinion, should be present at most lunches and all dinners. It should then come as no surprise to you that when I began planning a recent trip to South Africa, its world-famous wine country sat on top of my to-do list. A girlfriend told me she and a friend were also heading to S.A., as it’s popularly referred to in Kenya, and would be renting a car for a road trip from Cape


Town to Durban, hitting up some vineyards along the way. Did I want to join? The rest is history. Let me tell you, Stellenbosch is a plan and a half, my fellow winedrinking cohorts. From the luxurious wineries, you overlook vineyards, valleys and mountains, all lush and green, all the while sipping on some of the finest wines from some of the best makers in the world. There’s living, and then there’s ”living”, as a visit to the famous Delaire Graff Wine Estate proved. Approaching the massive compound in our rental, all our senses became saturated. We meandered along the long driveway, engulfed in a gorgeous garden whose flowers are brilliantly bright and heavenly scented. Laurence Graff, who established the winery, was a diamond dealer for many years, so luxury really is his thing, and no one in that car was mad about it. We parked and proceeded to be greeted by a friendly hostess who led us into the main entrance, an impressive structure filled with

grandeur. Art is everywhere, from the architecture to the furniture. I passed running water under staircases, light music playing in the background, and thousands of dollars’ worth of jewellery sitting on display in glass cases, before stepping out onto the pristine balcony to take a seat, admire the overwhelmingly beautiful view on this warm and sunny day, and get to the main event. That particular wine-tasting was unforgettable. We tried several bottles, with me pioneering for cheeky refills for us along the way and our pleasant server happily obliging. The Coastal Cuvée and Cabernet Franc Rosé were the finest wines I had during my S.A. experience – and I assure you that much wine was imbibed in the weeks that I was there. The Cuvée was your typical Sauvignon Blanc (my favourite white) in its light, crisp nature. Aromatic, I sipped and enjoyed the flavours caressing my tongue, taking in its acidic and fine, fruity accented aftertaste. Still, my all-time favourite

was that Cabernet Franc Rosé. This was the first time I learned about Cabernet Franc. Not all rosé is created equally, and this one is special. All pretty in pink, this baby begs your full attention in the first few sips, so you can make out the subtle hints of strawberry and blackcurrant which you’ll find here. Simple, fresh, slightly fruity and dry concisely describe this gem. I left Delaire Graff feeling warmer and bouncier than when I’d arrived. As I gallivanted through S.A., people watched my social media posts and commented things like “it’s time to come home now,” while others asked what exactly I was up to out there. “Living,” I replied. *Disclaimer: The designated driver was not drinking.

Follow Wanjira Longauer, a Radio Presenter on Capital FM on: Instagram: @WanLuv Twitter: @WanjiraL Facebook: Wanjira Longauer






UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE Don’t be afraid of a fine dining experience, urges Susan Wong, who thoroughly appreciated the impeccable service, exquisite meal and fuss-free atmosphere while dining at Sikia restaurant earlier this month


he first exceptional fine dining experience I had was on the second date with my freckly interest at the time. He had booked a table at one of Toronto’s leading restaurants for the last thirty-five years where their signature Coconut Cream Pie is hands-down, the best dessert in the city. I reveled in the fine dining experience whereas my date struggled to be himself and seemed like he was suffocating from our surroundings. Needless to say, that was our last meeting. The thought of fine dining usually conjures up ideas of tablecloths so thick that they could double-up as curtains, chandeliered dining rooms, a battalion of waiters waiting to serve your every need, formal Frenchstyle service with multiple plates and several glasses, dishes served under shiny silver domes, and how expensive the entire evening will cost. Some people might even go as far as saying that the fine dining experience is quite square. Well, dining at Sikia is far from being square. Also, you’ll be paying for more than just a thick tablecloth or a


It’s a restaurant, not a church or temple of fine dining, which means you can be yourself hyper-designed restaurant. At Sikia, located in Nairobi’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, the experience is actually fine dining without all the preconceived fuss. My companions and I recently enjoyed a decadent evening at Sikia that was anchored with some of the best service I’ve experienced in Kenya in a while. Unobtrusive, respectful and warm, the lovely interaction with our waiters was definitely one of the highlights. Mind you, there were only three other tables that evening, so we definitely enjoyed some more attention since there was a lot to go around. Aside from skilled service, the other highlights of the evening were the superb ingredients and great cooking. The menu reads well and isn’t overwhelmed with a lengthy number of pages neither is it too formal. It features classy comfort food, including some old-fashioned dishes that seem to define its own era, but like the space, has been given a lick of modern polish. To begin, a clear Tom Yum Goong soup with prawns flavoured with fragrant lemongrass and coriander

arrived well-balanced with hot and sour notes. The broth had been skimmed so many times that it was more of a consommé, left with only aromatic flavours than what you’d usually expect from this Thai favourite. Unfortunately, the prawns that were beautifully placed in the center of the bowl were slightly overcooked and slightly heading towards the rubbery side. Next, a beautifully presented Crab and Mango Salad arrived with fresh mango and pulled crab dressed with a pineapple and mint vinaigrette. This salad definitely needed a kick of chilli and some extra citrus to cut through the sweetness of the pairing to make it interesting. The texture of the combination was soft and wet, which didn’t help, and needed some crunch for texture. A warm salad of sautéed Calamari Rings in sesame oil with leeks, onions, ginger and a hint of red chili was plated very well, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed the umami of the dish. The winning starter for us was the Warm Lentil and Scallop Salad. Featuring grilled scallops with

beautiful markings and still moist sitting on fennel sprigs served with lentils that weren’t mushy, then dressed in garlic olive oil and Dijon mustard, and tossed with red pepper, onion and parsley– we gladly would have ordered another portion. To follow, the breast of the Flambé Duck had skin that looked like lacquered mahogany. Slow-roasted, the duck was a bit overcooked for my preference because I prefer pink. Flambéed in the orange- flavoured Cointreau and served on a sweet cherry sauce, it was so close to being perfect. The Sikia Beef Wellington, a signature, sounds old-fashioned but is a difficult dish to execute. Putting a Kenyan spin on to this classic, a succulent piece of beef fillet is wrapped in Terere greens and a finely chopped mixture of mushrooms, shallots and herbs, and then wrapped with puff pastry that is golden and flakes to the touch of the fork. The moisture is cleverly contained, and each layer is distinct in flavour and texture. A thick-cut Seared Salmon with

Vanilla-flavoured Arrowroot Mash with Horseradish Foam and Apple Tapenade was glorious. The generous portion of salmon was well-seasoned and its skin seared until crispy and caramelised. The arrowroot mash, a beautiful shade of lavender, was surprisingly delicious thanks to its subtle sweetness. For dessert, a white chocolate mousse with almond flavour, dubbed Chocolate Wrinkle, was a worthy favourite while the Pear and Ginger Bread was a surprising close second. The interior of Sikia is polished, has a bit of glamour, but also features understated elegance. There are gorgeous walls with textured motifs, colourful and vibrant artwork that add personality to the space, a wall of wine that captivates your attention from the moment you walk in, and comfortable chairs that hug you. It’s a restaurant, not a church or temple of fine dining, which means you can be yourself. Don’t let the term “fine dining” define your food experience for you. Just be prepared to order an exquisite meal in equally exquisite surroundings.



MEMBERS ONLY Shabnam Nayer, the Bailli Délégué of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs of Kenya, has one of the most influential gourmet roles in the country. Winnie Wangui sits down with her to better undersand what exactly this means for Kenyan fine cuisine. What is fine dining? I would describe it as a progressive dining experience which features intricately prepared dishes that focus on subtle tastes where individual flavours are the epitome of the experience. It involves fine wine and emphasizes on the quality of the dish and not the quantity. What is Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and how did it come to Kenya? Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an International Association of Gastronomy which brings together fine dining enthusiasts from around the world. It currently has over 25,000 members spread out in over 80 countries. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, executive chefs, sommeliers and fine dining lovers are some of the members who constitute Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. In Kenya, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs first started in Mombasa 22 years ago but became defunct for ten years and was revived 12 years ago and had been active ever since. In Nairobi, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs started in 2016 and will be celebrating their second anniversary this April. How did you get to become the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Bailli Délégué du Kenya? Before becoming a Bailli Délégué du Kenya, I was a committee member of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Kenyan


Chapter which at the time only existed in Mombasa. My husband was the Bailli Délégué du Kenya at the time, a position he held for 8 years i.e two and a half terms. It was actually through his membership that I got interested in fine dining and eventually I was elected to the position for a two-year term. My career prior to Chaîne des Rôtisseurs was in education. I have been a teacher and headmistress in Mombasa based junior schools but I’m retired now. What success has Chaîne des Rôtisseurs achieved? During Chaîne dinners, chefs go all out when creating menus. Creativity is unlimited and Chaîne dinners act as avenues to showcase chefs’ skills. Staff at the specific hotels are always trained beforehand on synchronised service, among other skills, hence transforming the entire service experience at the hotel. Sometimes, meals had during Chaîne dinners make it to the a la carte menu, giving non-Chaîne members the opportunity to experience gastronomically prepared meals. How do hotels get the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs recognition? Say a hotel would like to get into the Chaîne society, the manager would get in touch with the Bailli Délégué

du Kenya and state his/her interest. The hotel would then go through a vetting process, where they would also be taken through Chaîne des Rôtisseurs policies and if they feel they can perform up to par with global standards then they pay an entry fee and an induction ceremony is scheduled. How has fine dining in Nairobi evolved over the years? Fine dining in Nairobi has grown immensely and feels like it is still in the experimental stage. When it comes to menus and presentation, I believe the future is bright for Nairobi. Back when we started, most people were used to three course meals as the only fine dining experience but we have restaurants offering special five course menus and more. What attempt at fine dining has offended you most in life? We once got the chance to reserve a table at a famous British celebrity chef’s chain restaurant and to be honest our experience did not live up to our expectations. It felt like we were in a factory where food was being churned out in large quantities and fast just so we can leave and the next lot can get in. Tables were too close to each other, too many dinners-like a thousand people, food was bland and it felt like they were

cashing in on the celebrity chef’s name. Can Kenyan food ever be elevated into a fine dining menu? Any food can be elevated into fine dining and Kenyan food is no exception. For instance, there’s a Chaîne dinner I went to where ugali was on the menu. It was presented as tall towers with intricately cut designs, infused with flavours such as beetroot, which made the ugali become red. The chef received a standing ovation and his menu is still a topic of discussion today. So if ugali can be made into a fine dining meal, what can’t? When you’re not sampling exquisite meals around the globe, what are you up to? Mountain climbing. I have climbed Mt. Kenya six times, Mt. Kilimanjaro twice, and I’ve also been mountain climbing in Turkey, Himalayas, just to mention a few. I do technical climbing which involves the use of equipment.

Winnie was hosted for lunch at The Mayura (


THE ULTIMATE RESTAURANT GUIDE Discover the coolest restaurants in Nairobi with the new EatOut app


NAIROBI & FINESSE As across the world the concept of fine dining gets turned on its head, how is Nairobi faring in comparison, wonders Katy Fentress as she samples some of the best meals our city’s chefs have to offer.




pull up a stool at the tall kitchen bar style counter, to either side, shiny black butcher shop-style tiles are plastered on the walls. A waiter shaves heads of foam from pints of craft beer and across the countertop, the Chef frowns in concentration as he adds the final touches to my Wagyu steak tartare. The small kitchen brigade darts back and forth, readying themselves before the evening throng, the savoury smell of grilling meat hangs in the air. To some, the restaurant Sierra Burger and Wine and its charming founder and Chef, Alan Murungi, might seem like an unlikely flag bearer for the new phase of Kenya’s fine dining revolution. Fine dining should be about stiff formalities, small fussy plating, expensive chandeliers and endless amounts of cutlery. Sitting up close and personal to the inner workings of the beast as I am now, courtesy of Chef Alan’s weekly Kitchen Table, should not qualify as fine dining. At least not in the traditional sense of the term. REVOLUTIONARY ORIGINS We have the French Revolution to thank for the advent of fine dining. Before beheading aristocrats was a thing in France, the only commercial places for people to get a bite was in taverns and family-run establishments that served a basic fare offering little in the way of choice. Meanwhile, the upper classes in their gilded palaces, indulged in multi-course meat bonanzas, feasting on elaborate dishes prepared by highly trained chefs. As the bloody revolution drew to a close, many of the chefs that had been in the service of the now headless or escaped aristocrats, found themselves without a job. Before long, these displaced culinary maestros began to open their own eating establishments, introducing the concept of dining to the solvent middle classes. This new approach to eating out brought with it all the trappings of its high origins: delicate china, complicated silverware, white starched linen tablecloths and a long list of etiquette prescriptions. For the longest time then, French dining was defined by complicated dishes cooked for hours on end which glorified butter, fat and decadent bechamel-style sauces. All this, however, was turned on its head in the 1960s with the invention of nouvelle cuisine, a style of cooking that focussed on simple minimalist


Formality is out the window in favour of experiential eating, an obsession with emotion and the provenance of ingredients

Restaurant at the Norfolk Fairmont Hotel and Sierra Burger and Wine



CHEF’S TABLE FAQ WHAT IS A CHEF’S TABLE? An intimate dining experience in which a chef prepares a special meal not found on their daily à la carte menu WHO CAN ATTEND? Anyone can book a Chef’s table. Different Chef’s do it different ways. In Nairobi, some like Sarova Stanley and Tatu, have to be organised a week in advance while others, like Sierra Burger and Wine, happen on a weekly basis HOW MANY PEOPLE? As a rule of thumb Chef’s Tables work best for 6 people WHERE DOES IT TAKE PLACE? Chef’s Tables are an intimate behind the scenes peek at how a Chef works so they are supposed to either be inside the kitchen or to have a prime view of it.

WHAT FOOD WILL I GET? Essentially this is up to the Chef. Some will want to wow you with seven courses of finely plated dishes while others are confident their expertise shines through in three servings. WHAT NAIROBI RESTAURANTS DO CHEF’S TABLES? • Sierra Burger and Wine • Tatu at Fairmont, Norfolk Hotel • Sarova Stanley Hotel • Lucca at Kempinski Hotel • Jiko at Tribe Hotel HOW MUCH WILL IT PUT ME BACK? Depends on the establishment but start at KSh.7000 per person and work your way up from there WHAT SHOULD I WEAR? Again, depends on the establishment but when you are paying that much money you might as well make a bit of an effort!


dishes creatively plated with the aim of extracting the essential flavours of ingredients. Much of the rest of the world soon caught on. In the space of a few decades nouvelle cuisine, with its rejection of hearty, home cooking, was wholly embraced by the global elites. So it was that for the better part of two centuries French cuisine, old and new, symbolised all that was fine and sophisticated about food. Experiential Eating We walk through the old colonial “Exchange Bar”, the short-lived Nairobi stock exchange, past the statues of the Buddha in Thai Chi restaurant and on, into the bowels of the Sarova Stanley hotel main kitchen. After pausing to observe Chef Godfrey Ouda as he delicately lays out strips of honey-infused bacon on a platter, we are ushered up some industrial stairs, into a tiny room with a table set for a luxurious feast and a big glass window through which to admire the kitchen proceedings down below. When it comes to Chef’s Tables Paolo Marro, the General Manager at the Sarova Stanley, does not pull any punches. Earlier in the week my colleagues and I were surprised by a car full of butlers who drove to our office in order to ceremoniously hand deliver four embossed invitation cards. The Sarova management even offered to arrange to pick us up on the day - an offer that, much to the dismay of my colleagues, I politely declined. Marro, who has managed hotels in all corners of the world, explains that at the Sarova Stanley no Chef’s Table ever resembles another. He lovingly details the process the team goes through to conceive and execute the menu and for the umpteenth time, apologises for insisting on needing a whole week in order to organise the kitchen staff around the preparation of the meal. The menu is bespoke, the service impeccable, the wine well paired and the care with which Chef Godfrey presents each new course, obviously the fruit of an intense labour of love. Marro confesses that he is so keen to nail the evening’s menu, he will go



as far as googling his more famous guests in order to get a feel for what kind of food they might get a thrill from. With his insistence on curating every single aspect of the diner’s experience, Marro has tapped into one of the essential aspects of modern fine dining. When people expect to part with large sums of money for a meal, they want to leave the place feeling their cash bought them something exquisitely personalised, in this case a “behind the scenes” first hand experience of the chef working their art to the nth degree. FINE DINING IS DEAD Fine Dining is dead and we have the likes of David Chang to blame for it. Or so stated the food writer Alan Richman after dining at the New York Momofuku restaurant in 2016. David Chang, a Korean American restaurateur and culinary innovator, was the first person to turn sitting at a bar on a hard stool an elevated experience worthy of a hefty price tag. When we consider that Noma, in Copenhagen, one of the best restaurants in the world, encourages guests to “come as you feel comfortable” and offers the option of eating at a communal table, we begin to realise how much things have changed over the course of the last couple decades. Jay Rayner, an influential British restaurant critic, joined the “anti-fine


dining” choir when in 2015 he penned an article for the Guardian newspaper in which he argued that people were turning against fine dining in favour of casual dining establishments which deliver the good stuff with a minimum of fuss. Chang, who trained as a French chef but then went on to found the famous Momofuku restaurant empire, has led the charge against the fine dining approach. His disruption of the high end cooking scene has had such a noticeable impact, that he recently wrote an article grieving the demise of the traditional fine dining French restaurant. The cheek. In the last episode of his recent documentary series “Ugly Delicious”, Chang sums up his views on fine dining today by saying: “Traditionally fine dining was white tablecloths, linens, flowers, people with penguin suits and for many years that was where the best food lived. It’s something I think I’ve historically tried to push the buttons of, stripping away the nonsense and just getting to the food”. Italian superstar Chef Massimo Bottura echoes Chang, when he underlines that the important element of a dining experience is reflected by the ingredients themselves. Fine dining, he says, is a process by which chefs search for culinary perfection and emotion. The focus, then, is on the food itself rather than the rarified experience of eating in an elegant establishment inspired by antiquated French aesthetics.

LONG LIVE DINING ON FINE FOOD Formality is out the window in favour of experiential eating, an obsession with emotion and the provenance of ingredients. This last aspect is what Chef Aris Athanasiou, who runs the kitchen at Tatu Restaurant at Fairmont The Norfolk hotel, has set his sights on. We are seated at the last of our three Chef’s Tables and Chef Aris is half way through presenting a thorough history of the Angus steaks we will soon sink our teeth into. The vegetables too are worthy of mention, he tells us with pride, as they are grown on an organic farm in the Mara especially for use in the Tatu kitchen. As he talks, I inhale the aromas of a glass of ouzo he paired with our scallop and jamon Serrano dish and reach the conclusion that here in Nairobi, where fine dining is often the preserve of its iconic hotels, the dining experience becomes a fusion of the chef’s personality with that of the hotel. Obituaries aside though, we live in a city where any traditional interpretation of the word fine dining is steeped in a history of colonialism. Which might go a long way towards explaining why the city’s more classic style fine dining restaurants rarely operate at maximum capacity while gourmet burger joints and high-end Asian eateries seem to enjoy a more robust crowd. When it comes to sizing up to the fine dining global trends, Nairobi might still be a bit behind but we are

witnessing glimmers of innovation that are worthy of mention. The Sarova Chef’s Table, by far the most elaborate of the ones we tried, had a dish which included a tender lamb’s tongue served on a bed of pureed truffled peas with a creamy ugali side. Alan Murungi rears at least three different breeds of cows in his Nanyuki ranch and proudly brews his own brand of Sierra craft beer and Aris Athanasiou injects echoes of his native Greek cuisine into his culinary offerings at Tatu. Nairobians might shy away from the pomp and circumstance but they are fully on board with the experiential, curated and intimate experience that something like a chef’s table can create. So basically, if you want a fine dining experience in Nairobi you can go two ways: either search out a restaurant that throws tradition to the wind and focuses exclusively on bringing you excellent food made with the best ingredients in a curated but not overly formal setting, or go all out and book yourself an intimate evening in one of the restaurants where our city’s best chefs make it their business to open up their kitchens so they can demonstrate their culinary prowess to discerning foodies with some cash to spend. Katy Fentress and Josiah Kahiu were guests at the Chef’s Tables of the Sarova Stanley Hotel, Tatu Restaurant at the Norfolk Fairmont Hotel and Sierra Burger and Wine








Ivy Nyayieka picks the brains of Chef Wissem Abdellatif, a Tunisian chef bringing his own twist to a fine dining classics in Nairobi, and discovers the joys of Foie Gras Creme Brulee




hef Wissem Abdellatif exudes the confidence only people who are really good at what they do possess. Executive Chef at the Radisson Blu hotel in Upper Hill, he is charming in his glasses and his hair that looks curly in a lazy way. On the phone he teases a colleague, telling her he is downing his tools for the night since the guests are running late. The Tunisian born chef knows how to work as much as play. On the floor of Chophouse, one of two restaurants located in the hotel, a well-orchestrated presentation of the food involves him introducing a Carpaccio Foie Gras with Italian truffle oil. Foie gras is the fatty liver of an overfed goose. Hovering discreetly


in the background, he instructs us to “mix it!” His tone betrays something between sternness and protectiveness of his creation. The dish is a fusion between French and Italian cuisine and includes a touch of Terrine de foie gras, black salt from Israel, micro herbs, mustard, asparagus and some molecular cuisine in the form of beetroot foam. My companion and I comment on how nowadays every self-respecting fine dining establishment must incorporate some form of molecular cuisine into the proceedings. While Chef Wissem might come off as a bit of a control freak, I learn that this is exactly what you want in the person you entrust with your foie gras. “Cooking foie gras is a very

delicate process. You need to know how to handle it. Because foie gras is fat, meaning if you don’t cook it you will not find this texture,” he tells me. When Chef Wissem tells you what he was up to 20 years ago, you cannot be faulted for having wrongly approximated his age down by 10 or 15 years. After studying at home in Tunisia, then in Germany and Italy, Chef Wissem got into the Institut Paul Bocuse where he studied under the famous chef after whom it was named. Here, he first learnt how to make Bocuse’s famous soup VGE which comprised foie gras and truffle and was created in honour of then French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing (yes, his first encounter with

foie gras was to make a meal almost literally fit for a king). Chef Wissem’s eventual success is especially beautiful because he had to fight with his family to follow a career in the culinary arts. “Everybody wanted me to be an engineer,” he tells me “and I was always number one in Mathematics and Physics in school.” Yet he stayed his convictions, as he knew what he loved. “I spent all my childhood with family in hotels, so I fell in love with the kitchen. When I was a child, I would buy cookbooks, read them and then start to make food,” he says. This sense of adventure continued into the beginning of his career: “I spent a lot of money for example, to go to good restaurants. I can even


Chef Wissem and his trusted Executive sous-chef Jeff Gitonga

Chef Wissem is surprised that Kenyans are foie gras fans

spend my salary to go discover one restaurant. My friends know about this: for me, the kitchen is culture and you need to discover,” After graduating from Institut Paul Bocuse, the chef worked with a renowned Canadian-Tunisian foie-gras chef in Moscow. Thanks to these experiences, he knows how to make carpaccio, consommé foie gras, terrine foie gras, foie gras poêlé, crème brûlée foie gras and even foie gras stuffed inside meat. Under the spell of a sweet rosê that was paired with our first dish, we are ushered into the next course: scallop foie gras and panna cotta creme brulee with brioche bread, apricot and passion fruit. The scallop foie gras is classically

soft inside. Chef Wissem stresses that it should not be dry, especially because it is usually served in small portions, “If you prepare it under high temperatures, you will find it too oily. You need to know how to cook it. Normally we just seal a la plancha with salt, pepper and a little bit of flour.” My companion, who dislikes sweet wines and is sceptical of the Sauternes late harvest white and foie gras pairing, decides she must consult the man she calls her “personal oenologist”. Despite the assurance of Chophouse’s in-house expert and Google’s corroboration that this is indeed a classic pairing, we send an alarmist “Sauterne and foie-gras, heaven or a NO-NO?” his way. His

answer is confusing, starting out with a firm no and eventually admitting that that is how the French like it. What is a perfect pairing, though, is the foie gras creme brulee and the Sauternes. “This is the thing you expect to be sugary or sweet but it’s actually savoury,” says my companion, as she digs her spoon into the delicacy. You can tell the creme brulee is Chef Wissem’s favourite child too: “Creme brulee is really something amazing to make. It is not common in restaurants. This is our touch. This is unique.” If you would like to take the word of an accomplished chef, he promises it is not difficult to make but warns that it involves a lot of work. “We take the

foie gras. Raw foie gras and we make it the same as creme brulee. We mix it with cream and with egg and with a little bit of Cognac. “Foie gras is a magical product,” says Chef Wissem (really, get yourself a lover who talks about you the way this chef talks about foie gras). His confidence turns into something mellower when he starts talking about his food and he sounds almost, once again, as vulnerable as a child who would thumb through cookbooks to learn how to make food. Chef Wissem is surprised that Kenyans are foie gras fans, “In Congo, they order foie gras because they are Francophone and there are also many French people there. Kenya is Anglophone yet many people order foie gras and they really love it.” Wissem is always careful to learn his customers’ palates. He says: “When I come to any country, I need to go to the market. It is very important to discover the culture and from there you make your fusion and give your touch. I eat all Kenyan food” Quoting Alan Ducat, Wissem adds, “The kitchen is like when you play theatre. You don’t play for you. You play it for the guests.” Apart from Kenya’s, Wissem has explored markets in Dubai, Mauritius, Italy, Moscow, South Korea, Switzerland and Congo Brazzaville. However, home has never left Wissem, “We Tunisians are very welcoming. In our culture, we love good food and we enjoy receiving guests and we cook for them a lot of food. You’ve seen what I cooked today was a lot.” So, thanks to Tunisia, we staggered out with our bellies a bit dangerously full of foie gras. Ivy Nyayieka was a guest at Radisson Blu’s Chophouse.



VERY SPECIAL INDEED Women are easily distracted by French accents, or so decides Leroy Buliro as he zones out over the course of a Cognac tasting courtesy of the Brand Ambassador of House Martell. PHOTO PETER NDUNG’U




here is something about Brand Ambassadors with their mussed-up hairstyles, classy attire and mountains of charisma that gets all the ladies buzzed whenever we are having a tasting at the office. This was the case when Martell’s brand ambassador, Ugo Messi, dropped by for a Cognac tasting earlier this month. It is 4pm on the day before we break for Easter when Messi walks in. His arrival does not go unnoticed, as all the women in the office turn their heads and just like that, us dudes are relegated to the sidelines. No sooner than have office hours officially ended, the ladies rush down the stairs to our backyard garden. By the time the rest of us follow suit, the females have already grabbed their seats with a prime view of the, ahem, show. For those not in the know, the iconic House of Martell was born in a small town in the west of France called Cognac in 1715. Martell is one of the most recognised cognac brands in the world and we are all excited to get a taste, especially for those who have never even had a sip of the stuff. “There are two main ingredients for making Cognac,” says Messi, expertly launching into his tried and tested presentation. “The first ingredient

is grapes, the second, love,” he continues, while placing three tulip shaped glasses in front of each of us. “For Cognac, we do not have age statements, we only have quality statements. This is what elevates the spirit from the rest”. Messi goes on to explain that the quality statements are VS standing for Very Special, VSOP for Very Superior Old Pale and XO. No hugs and kisses will be flying around, not now at least, it is far too early for that. “XO stands for Extra Old”, says Messi finishing off on the basics of his presentation. As we continue to hear about the history of the brand, I ponder that no matter how fat your wallet is or how fancy you carry yourself, you stand no chance against a man with a French accent, especially when such man is of Cameroonian descent. “What is the best and only way to drink Cognac?” the question interrupts my reveries. The answer is not entirely expected: “Your way, you have to enjoy it your way, depending on the mood. Whether you like your drink iced up and on the rocks, as a cocktail or with a mixer”. Starting off the tasting is the Martell VS, which has a fruity aroma from the grapes and is soft in the mouth. This is not the case with the second bottle,

the VSOP which has a woody aroma and I find mildly harsh to the throat. The XO instead tastes smooth, its aromas spicy on the nose and intense in the mouth. By the time darkness engulfs us, one more bottle is unveiled. This is the VSSD, a Very Special Single Distillery line which has yet to hit the market. Just by looking at its archshaped bottle, and the jealousy with which Messi cradles it, it becomes obvious that this is the brand’s new golden child. After a short walkthrough on the new bottle’s history and how it is prepared, we all lift our glasses to our nose to capture its scent before taking a sip, or gulps, for those who are already too far gone. The night is still young and the Martell is coursing through our veins whispering to our minds to loosen up. Who are we to say no? Before you know it we have decided the only way forward is a good old karaoke session. Luckily for the women though, Messi packs his bags up and prepares to leave, I’m not sure what impression their vocal cords would have made. Follow Ugo Messi on IG: @ugo_martell





ALL IN A NAME Jackson Biko was sandwiched between alcohol royalty and had this to say:


efore I took the lift at Sankara Nairobi’s second floor Atrium to meet the 8th Generation Hennessy family I ran into a gentleman, a writer and a proprietor of a luxury portal. He was due to meet the Hennessy duo after me. He had on a swanky three-piece suit complete with a silk tie. Dapper, just dapper. I wanted to place a fedora on his crown to complete the ensemble. Feeling the lapel of his suit between my thumb and finger, I said, “Are you getting married after this?” I was in jeans. I had thought of wearing a suit myself because I was told these gentlemen are like royalty but I didn’t because I hardly never wear a suit and when I do (the last time was in 2015), I always imagine that the whole world can tell I’m not used to suiting up based on how ill at ease I look in them. It’s like after leaving the dentist with numb cheeks, you always imagine everybody can tell how “swollen” your face is. The Atrium is the open bar where they curate expensive artwork for sale and the Hennessy gentlemen sat - befittingly - under one of those paintings. There was the elderly Hennessy and the younger Hennessy. They both got to their feet as I, together with the their

country’s marketing ombudsman approached. As protocol dictated, I started by shaking the hand of the elderly Hennessy who was tall and towering. The Younger Hennessy was sharp and crisp like a clean bite of a green apple. He had a well tailored suit, most likely a designer. And he wore the hell out of it. His uncle, on the other hand, was worn by his big floaty suit that seemed to say, “I don’t care, I’m a Hennessy after all.” He could have been anyone’s uncle. Wait, he was the younger Hennessy’s uncle. Although it was 10am in the morning they offered me a drink from a bottle of Hennessy VSOP that was celebrating 200 years - almost as old as the design of the Old Hennessy’s suit, I suspect. Because I don’t drink Hennessy (or any cognac for that matter) and I certainly don’t drink in the morning I said, “No thanks, it’s too early for a drink.” The older man chuckled and said, “Oh come, it’s never too early for a Hennessy.” He was the charmer and the storyteller, it turned out. But sitting with these two gentlemen and juxtaposing our conversations later was a study of two generations even though they were both the 8th generation Hennessy. The older Hennessy, for instance,

was more travelled, he dropped names of unknown parts of West Africa where he lived for a while and dropped dates from a time I wasn’t born. The younger Hennessy is yet to see the world as much as his uncle has but what he has seen he has quickly tried to figure out. Whereas the Older Hennessy sat the hell back with confidence, legs apart at times, almost like he was waiting for his cigars to be brought, the younger Hennessy sat upright, hands on thighs, back ramrod straight. His answers were like a well curved cube, with the exact right angles, every sentence well thought out, every comma deserving of its usage, clipped sentences that make great reading for a business paper that takes itself seriously. Whereas his demeanor was studious, his uncle’s was chill, the kind of people who tell you, “Oh come on, don’t be like that, have another drink.” The older Hennessy had more knowledge having lived longer life but since he was seated like a Don most times, his answers were delivered in the same relaxed Don-fashion. He had more poetry in his words and while the younger Hennessy wanted to prove, the older Hennessy had already proven.

The Older Hennessy struck me as the kind of guy you would have loved to have a drink with in an old pub with a large wooden counter and a fan that doesn’t work, while the younger Hennessy seemed the kind of guy who had a drink in a posh pub served by a tuxedo barman with a white beard. Older Hennessy loved his drink the way his forefathers loved their drink; with water or neat, while his nephew was more experimental with cocktails because he’s living in an age of free wifi and Kanye West. Ambition thudded through the younger man’s suit, I recall, like an animal straining on his leash. And so it was a beautiful collision of generations of sorts. I sat in the middle of this beautiful fork of personality, time and age. But mostly I marveled at how it must feel like to have your last name recognised almost everywhere in the world. “Hi, my name is John Hennessy.” Creased brow. “Are..are you...the..Hennessy? As in the drink?” “Yup. That’s me.” Problem with having a friend like that is that you can’t order, a Remy Martin or Martell when you are with them. It would be a betrayal to their name.


Gatuiri Mwangi (@leotunapika)

CHICKPEA CURRY INGREDIENT LIST 1Tbsp Sungold Lite 1-2 Onions ½ Chopped Red Chilli 1 Tbsp Curry Powder 1Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste 2 Tomatoes finely chopped 1 Can pre-boiled Chickpeas ½ Cup Coconut cream dhania ½ Lemon (juice of) METHOD 1.


Heat oil in a pan. Add chopped onion, season with salt and sauté for 2-3 mins/until browned.



4. 5.

Next add ginger garlic paste, stir/cook for a bit then add in tomatoes, followed by curry powder, turmeric and cook for about 2 mins Add in the drained chickpeas and cook for a bit then add in the coconut cream and cook on low for 5 mins stirring occasionally. Squeeze in lemon juice then add in fresh dhania Serve straight away with rice/ flatbread. Garnish with dhania then dig in!

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Wamboi Kay (@wamboikay)



1Tbsp Sungold Lite 340g Chicken Breast 2 Garlic Cloves Sliced 200g Broccoli 200ml Chicken Stock 1 Heaped Tsp. Cornflour 1 Tbsp Honey 1 Lemon (Juice + Half Zest)



Heat oil in a pan/wok. Add sliced chicken breast and fry for 3-4 mins until




Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. Add garlic to the pan and stir fry broccoli for 1 min. Then cover and cook for 2 mins. Mix the stock, cornflour and honey in a jug and stir well. Then pour into the pan and stir until thickened. Toss the chicken back into the pan, heat through then add the lemon zest and juice. Serve straight away with a side of sautĂŠed baby potatoes

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Jayson Mbogo - @jaytakeapic





340g Chicken Breast slices 1Tbsp Sungold Lite 1 Red onion 1 Yellow bell Pepper 1 Red Bell Pepper Chilli Powder Smoked Paprika 1 Lemon/Lime Dhania


2. 3. 4.

In a large bowl combine the chicken, peppers,onion and spices and mix. Add 1tbsp Sungold lite to a pan and cook the fajita mix. SautĂŠ for 5-10 mins or until chicken is cooked through. Serve in a tortilla wrap, with sliced avocado and Salsa.

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Gatuiri Mwangi (@leotunapika)

THAI FISH CAKES INGREDIENTS 2. 1Tbsp Sungold Lite 2 Minced Snapper fillets 1 Minced Onion ½ Chopped Red Chilli 1 Tsp Hot sauce Ginger garlic paste 2 Spring onion Chopped diagonally 1/3 Cup breadcrumbs Dhania Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce ½ Lemon (juice of) METHOD 1.

In a medium pan sauté the onion, spring onion and chilli until fragrant. (About 2 mins) Then set aside




In a medium bowl combine the fish, cooked onion mix, hot sauce, ginger & garlic paste, breadcrumbs, chopped dhania, salt and pepper. Mix until well combined. Next form fish cake patties, place on lined baking sheet and chill for 30 mins. Heat some oil in a pan and shallow fry the patties for about 2 mins on each side, until golden brown. Once all the patties are cooked. Serve them on a platter with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Garnish with fresh dhania.

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EXPERIMENTS IN DINING Thought fine dining was all about fancy foods you can’t pronounce? Well think again explains Marah Köberle, as she brings us on a whirlwind tour of one of the most prized restaurant kitchens of the world


hen Rene Redzepi, of “best restaurant in the world” Noma fame, opens the door to his fermentation lab, you enter a world of wonders. A huge glass container with a whole octopus pickling away, orange pumpkin pieces dipped in beeswax left curing for months, Mason jars with colourful pickled vegetables or black garlic and a bucket full of fermenting peas to create a miso-like soup base, just to name a few. The rooms have the feeling of a science-lab with dated labels full of ingredients and other scribbles sticking to the batches of food. A quite unexpected experience considering where we are: Redzepi’s ‘Noma’ has been named world’s best restaurant four times since 2010 by Restaurant magazine and was awarded two


Michelin stars by the influential Michelin Guides. For Redzepi, the Danish chef behind the Copenhagen-based revolutionary dining establishment, preserving techniques such as fermenting and pickling are the core of his cooking style. According to his book: “The Noma Guide to Fermentation”, every one of his dishes include some form of fermented food, making it key to the flavour profile of his fine dining establishment. With the described integration of traditional techniques and his favouritism of local ingredients for his fermenting and cooking practices, he embodies a new style of fine dining. Fine Dining nowadays isn’t limited to French foie-gras and caviar from Russia anymore. Chefs like Redzepi incorporate locally pickled carrots,

forest moss and pickled quail eggs in their dishes. Noma might be a frontrunner of this global trend but other highest ranked fine dining restaurants such as “Farmhouse Inn” in California, “Blue Hill” in New York, the German “Restaurant Überfahrt” or the Swedish “Fäviken” have a similar approach. The appreciation of fresh locally available ingredients as well as traditional cooking techniques, which are perceived as both rather rustic and nifty. CNN Culinary Journeys confirms this trend, describing the 10 ways in which Noma has changed nothing less than “the world of food”. The article states that Redzepi’s approach changed the way in which luxury is understood nowadays, making locally foraged ingredients instead of imported goods and the creation

of “weird but lovable ingredients” through fermentation thoroughly en vogue. While fine dining is mostly interpreted the traditional way, some change can be observed: in Nairobi the Sarova Stanley, for example, recently served up unexpected dishes such as lamb’s tongue at an extremely exclusive, fine dining meal. It is a welcome fresh wind to see early movers like Redzepi change paradigms of fine dining. The movement of local and traditional foods on the fine dining table seems more to be a fast-lived trend, although Europe and the US seem to be the centre of the phenomenon so far. Once the trend hits Nairobi, I sure will be one of the first to try. Follow Marah on Twitter @marah_tweet





Big appetite for Swiss

hospitality Mรถvenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi is now open. Enjoy our big selection of enticing food and beverages at our exceptional bar and restaurants. Sample cuisines from all around the world at Baluba; our all-day dining restaurant.


Yummy Vol 42 Fine Times