Food & Drinks

Tortillas made at home spurs online business

MICHELLE-CHEF-e

Michelle Nyaruai, a chef who runs an online kitchen called Chellez Kitchen poses for a picture during the interview on January 27, 2021. NMG PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

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Summary

  • Ask Michelle Nyaruai what drives her cooking, and she will say, love.
  • The 26-year-old has been preparing tortillas for more than a year now that spurred an online business, Chellez Kitchen, which started as a hobby.
  • The thin, circular, flat and unleavened Mexican flatbread prepared from corn flour or wheat flour, are not common in Kenya’s dinner tables.

Ask Michelle Nyaruai what drives her cooking, and she will say, love.

The 26-year-old has been preparing tortillas for more than a year now that spurred an online business, Chellez Kitchen, which started as a hobby.

The thin, circular, flat and unleavened Mexican flatbread prepared from corn flour or wheat flour, are not common in Kenya’s dinner tables.

They are can be confused for chapatis or samosa wraps.

Cooking tortillas, as the graduate of Psychology and International Relations, says, is just like making shawarma.

“Tortillas don’t require oil while cooking or rolling out. The similarities come in the ways on how they are preserved and maintaining the moistness and soft texture,” she says.

“Just picture eating grilled chapatis or flattened garlic bread with Greek Tzatziki sauce with sautéed barbeque chicken and the sweet juices that keep the tortillas favourable and addictive.”

Chefs use various ingredients and fillings such as meat, cheese, or vegetables to prepare tortillas.

Ms Nyaruai’s recipe includes two teaspoons of Chellez Homemade Tzatziki sauce, grilled barbeque chicken, one tablespoon of Chellez garlic coleslaw, and two teaspoons of Chellez sweet chilli sauce.

“My tortilla flour has garlic, which is optional, it will have herbs that bring out a ground fresh flavour when grilling it after the stuffing,” she says, adding that they can be accompanied with salad or French fries, if you want to a really satisfying meal.

Tortillas are mainly sold in eateries such as Big Knife, KFC and Chicken Inn, and Chellez Kitchen is a substitute for people who want to get deliveries to their homes and offices.

Two tortillas at Chellez go for Sh550.

“I have been receiving orders over and over again. What I love about this is the fact that buyers can't put their heads on exactly what it is that kicks especially with the sauces,” she says.

The Masters in International Relation Concentration in Peace and Conflict student began the business in November 2019, with deliveries for lunch to offices.

“I started this business as a hobby, then realised it was a gift. Whenever we had guests coming home, I was the one always making meals for them at home. I loved cooking. This is how my family pushed me to start doing the lunch menu,” she says.

At first, her target customers were in the age group 24 to 35, who value experiences with new food. But this has expanded after considering to do catering services.

Apart from tortillas, the epicure turn entrepreneur prepares cuisines including African, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Mexican, and Indian Cuisines which are mostly catered for during events as opposed to lunch menus that are for deliveries.

The lunch menu keeps changing depending on the month. Currently, the lunch menu entails Chinese Cuisine of Udon Japanese noodles and Chinese Kung Pao Chicken.

Most of the meals are prepared from home depending on the number of people but for a large group, she hires a bigger kitchen or cooks at the host's premises.

"For the catering events, I do marination overnight and with lunch, I take orders before 11 am. This gives me time to prepare the food in the morning."

Despite the great feedback has received from her customers, Ms Nyaruai is still learning the grips of the industry in regards to delivery.

“One lesson I have learned is that anyone in the food industry should have a backup plan and when one fails you have to be quick on problem-solving,” she adds.

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