Beatrice Nandwa is a chef/caterer who runs her own catering business, Nad Caterers, from her home in Kabete, Nairobi County.
She spoke to Saturday Magazine about her trade:
How did you get in the catering business?
My journey in to catering started shortly after completing my cookery attachment at the Safari Park Hotel. My employer couldn’t practice cookery at the same level that I had become used to. Being a public institution, my employer had limited ability to experiment with costly ingredients. I approached one of my supervisors and asked him if we could open a cafeteria, whose income we could use to broaden our food preparation skills and menu. He agreed.
What would you be doing if you were not a chef?
I would be a home science teacher. I love to teach.
Who is your inspiration?
My late auntie. She was a caterer at the University of Nairobi. I derive much of the catering and food preparation skills I have today from her career.
Which celebrity would you like to cook a meal for?
Alice Taabu. She hosted the popular show Mke Nyumbani, where she demonstrated the art of modern cookery.
What is your cuisine style?
Contemporary African cuisine.
What are three of your most popular dishes?
Chapati, Fried chicken and Pilau.
When at home what do you love to eat?
Fried githeri mixed with potatoes and carrots.
What is the nicest thing a client has ever said to you?
You are such an excellent cook. I could take you back with me to my country and employ you as my personal chef!
What’s the strangest thing that has ever occurred in your line of work?
Some time back, a certain client wanted me to prepare food for a wedding. However, she disagreed with the list of ingredients that I presented. She felt that they were a bit expensive. She decided to cut corners and ended up delivering inadequate and substandard ingredients. Her ingredients affected the quality of food. In the end, I was left with the feeling that I didn’t present the meal I had envisioned.
Becoming a better cook
Learn and borrow from new recipes. Practice as much as you can. No one was born as a perfect or natural cook. It all boils down to learning and nurturing passion for food preparation. Once in a while, invite honest people to try out your cooking. This will help you identify your weak areas. Be open to criticism.
How do you distinguish a good from a bad meal?
A good meal will always have a balanced ratio of spices. On the opposite extreme, a bad meal will be filled with overpowering spices that ruin the whole food experience.