Edwin Sitati, an executive chef at Emory Hotel, had no intentions to become a chef when he began his internship. He was comfortable in his role as a waiter.
The head chef at the hotel at that time had different thoughts, pushing the young intern to work in the kitchen.
“I used to hide and the head chef insisted that I was meant to be a chef and put me under a good sous chef,” says Chef Edwin.
Under the mentorship of the sous chef, Edwin started off as commis chef before he was promoted to a demi chef, taking to cooking like a fish to water.
“They promoted me and then took me for training to Utalii Hotel,” he says.
For the chef, cooking is like an art. He describes it as a drawing where you start from the basics and build upon it to present something beautiful.
His career progressed and saw him work at Safari Park, Fairview, Panari, Ole Sereni and in May last year he joined the Emory Hotel.
The new hotel in Nairobi's Kileleshwa has joined the hospitality industry, nestled in the greenery of the largely residential area.
The hotel has a main restaurant on the ground floor and the Mustang — an enclosed rooftop lounge with a view of the Nairobi skyline.
At the rooftop bar, the signature dish is Chef Edwin’s wings. The sticky wings served with a side of French fries are the perfect accompaniment to a cold beer as one watches the sun sink into the horizon in the glass enclosed lounge.
As the afternoon light peaks into the glass ceiling, it offers the ambience for an afternoon tea session that will turn into a mini drink up as the moonlight starts peeking in.
According to Chef Edwin, the cheese samosas, a house speciality, are a great pairing with tea or a salubrious beverage.
The menu is set on a daily basis by the chef and his team depending on the preferences of the market and the ingredients available.
“I have to be creative and come up with different things each time,” he says.
He tests three separate recipes on guests and the one with the most positive feedback is what finds its place on the menu.
As a chef, a good stock, soy sauce and olive oil are the most essential ingredients for him.
“A good stock is the base of all good cooking. It is food in liquid form,” he explains.
“You need good bone, fresh vegetables and then you simmer them (slow cook) to extract flavour and nutrients from the bone,” he explains.
With the stock is already full of flavour, all you need to do is correct the seasoning and the dish is complete.
The Emory’s menu ranges from Indian, Italian, Chinese and Continental dishes to tap into the changing tastes of the Kenyan market. According to Chef Edwin, the pizza diablo which has mushroom, onions, peppers, chicken, beef, salami and cheese is a popular offering, showing the evolution from traditional dishes.
“I sauté the mushroom, onion and peppers and sprinkle some sugar on the cheese to brown it in the oven creating a crispy top,” he says.
This adds to the crispy base with a fluffy filling playing on textures for the taste buds.
The hotel offers breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch.