Lesinko Marite could not hide his joy when the public voted Ole Polos the best nyama choma place at the Taste Awards last Friday.
Emerging top in a very competitive category that is associated with Kenyan’s culinary preference was an “an amazing experience”, especially considering Ole Polos is located outside Nairobi where there are many other places that are just as competitive, said Lesinko.
“This win means a whole lot for us, we appreciate it as it gives us further exposure,” he said. “We don’t really compete with the places in Nairobi because of our location, we just keep it simple, listen to our customers and work at improving our service.
Over 25 winners were announced at the second edition of the Taste Awards, which partnered with Heinekken this year to recognise the best in the hospitality industry, across 21 categories.
The awards bring together players in the food industry and for one night, they come together for some friendly competition.
If there was a night that Karura forest came alive with sound and celebration, it was during the awards as the best bars, chefs, mixologists and restaurants were recognised.
Kenyans were given a chance to vote for their favourite restaurants and pubs in the people’s choice awards category while the Prestige awards were presided over by the five judges, drawn from the industry and other personalities, who went around different restaurants and pubs to look for the best chef, mixologist, service team and the industry champion.
Over 200 establishments were nominated in this year’s awards with 68,000 people voting.
Kiran Jethwa, the proprietor and chef of Seven Sea Food was named the industry champion. Kiran opend Seven with his business partner three years ago and now has a culinary show on ZUKU TV that goes around the country exploring traditional foods and ingredients.
Chef of the year and mixologist were some of the anticipated awards for the evening. Marcus Mitchell of Talisman, in Karen, emerged as the chef of the year. Fairmont’s Karan Suri came in second.
Alex Kavita of Fairmont and Emmanuel Baborit of Nest at the Tribe were voted the best cocktail mixers in town.
At the end of the night Arttcafé and Brew Bistro were some of the big winners with three gongs each.
A blend of the African drums, an electrifying guitar and Dj toasted to the winners and participants in an industry that has recorded tremendous growth in the past couple of years, mainly driven by a growing discerning middle class.
At one point, head Taste judge Barry Tonks of Hemingways Nairobi, took to the stage for a cook-out while the spirits capability manager at EABL Kariuki Muki was at the cocktail stand.