Food & Drinks

Private chefs bring restaurant experience home

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Private chef John Njukia preparing some food at his kitchen in this photo taken on December 15, 2021, at Ruaka View Apartments. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Summary

  • The chef is John Njukia, the owner of Papa J’s Catering. This is the kind of service he’s been delivering to his clients at the comfort of their homes.
  • Cooking privately for individuals is something that chef Njukia had been doing for four years.
  • Not wanting to expose themselves to the virus, people are partnering with private chefs to bring the restaurant experience home.

Looking to indulge in an exquisite dining experience? Your dining table awaits you.

On the menu today is skillet toasted garlic and coriander bread as the starter, the classic beef lasagna with layers of pasta, two types of melted cheese, meat and sauces, simple ingredients that deliver an experience in your mouth, and for dessert, vanilla pound cake with blueberry compote and ice cream. With each serving, your chef explains what it entails and how it is prepared.

“The meal is best paired with a dry wine. A Pinot noir or Cabernet Sauvignon,” the chef says signaling the beginning of our dining experience.

The chef is John Njukia, the owner of Papa J’s Catering. This is the kind of service he’s been delivering to his clients at the comfort of their homes.

“I have clients all over Nairobi from Kilimani, Runda, Karen, and even here in Ruaraka, where I am based,” Mr Njukia explains. “Thirty percent of my business is from abroad. People order for food delivering a unique taste and flavour for their loved ones here in Kenya, and I get to prepare and serve it.”

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And they dress up for it including the chef himself in whites.

Cooking privately for individuals is something that chef Njukia had been doing for four years. With Covid-19, however, the frequency increased two notches. So captivating has this become that he has to post on his social media pages that his weeks are full, and anyone wanting to engage him should book early.

Not wanting to expose themselves to the virus, people are partnering with private chefs to bring the restaurant experience home. For a basic fee of Sh2,500 per person, Chef Njukia will whip up a sumptuous three-course meal.

“I cook from a client’s home. Once an order has been made, I get in touch to discuss the menu, show up, cook, serve and the best part, clean up afterward,” the Hospitality Management graduate explains. “In some cases, I’ll work together with a private mixologist or wine sommelier to ensure the meals and wines are perfect counterparts.”

Specialising in French and International cuisine, pastry making, and choolateering, his meals include beef and mushroom fettucine, chicken satay, bacon bruschetta among others.

“Whatever the menu, I aim to evoke a homely feeling complemented with fine dining,” he adds.

Joy Lukhoba is also a private chef. Describing herself as a soul food chef, she wants “your interaction with my food to remind you of home.”

And her choice of serving for a would-be brunch reflects exactly that: meatballs in thick and rich barbecue sauce, oven-roasted chicken thighs, soy sauce sauteed stir fry vegetables, roast potatoes with skin, and French toast with hints of cinnamon and vanilla.

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Private chef Joy Lukhoba holding some of the food she had prepared at her kitchen in this photo taken on December 15, 2021, at Kent Gardens, Ole Kejuado Road, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Founder at Locked In Flavour, her business soared to greater heights during the pandemic. She also specialises in seafood such as shrimps or prawn curry, pastas, and comfort foods.

“Clients who seek me out want an extraordinary dine-at-home experience without the hassle of the heat and smoke of the kitchen,” chef Lukhoba adds.

With a degree in hotel and restaurant management, she is mostly self-taught, learning from reading, watching, trying, and perfecting recipes even as she creates her own.

“I have a set menu that clients can choose from. However, one has a choice of coming with the elements and taste they’d like,” she says.

Chef Lukhoba prefers to cook from her home because she’s “used to the kitchen, knows what to expect and how everything works.”

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Private chef Joy Lukhoba preparing some foods at her kitchen in this photo taken on December 15, 2021, at Kent Gardens, Ole Kejuado Road, Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

“If you want me to cook from your house, I’ll visit you once before to get acquainted with the kitchen and check for the equipment needed, she says adding that all aspects of cooking, styling, setup are provided.

“I carry my cutlery since it’s a challenge for many. I may prepare to impress with a flavourful menu only to find that I have no plates to serve it on. Yet the presentation of the food is just as important, if not more, as the eating of the food,” the last born in a family of five shares.

But it’s not just enough to have food and drinks, some clients will also hire a private DJ to further create a party mood.

How about trading the restaurant table for your own for a truly novel and unique way of feasting?