While Sharon Olale is our home chef of the week, the truth is, several of her family members could qualify.
Her brother is a professional chef and her mother is one known to cook up feasts for the family from scratch.
In her family, it is normal to sit around talking about food and sharing recipes.
“I started cooking at a very young age. When I was three years old, I remember one time when my mother had guests over. As she was entertaining them, she left beef stew cooking. I decided to help her and I poured some sukuma wiki in it. When she came back to the kitchen all I could say was ‘apika’ it was hilarious,” she says.
She learned the secrets from her mother without even trying.
“I think it’s inbred. Great cooking runs in our family,” she says.
However, for Sharon, cooking is no more than a hobby and good food. It is her way of relieving stress.
“It calms me down and that is why the kitchen is my favourite place in a house. Since we are all indoors thanks to Covid-19, it could be an activity. There are so many recipes to try out and children could be involved too to make it more interesting,” she says.
Her favourite dish is anything chicken; be it chicken Tikka, chicken curry, chicken masala, and chicken biryani.
The 27-year-old hotelier is passionate about using the best ingredients and never stops looking for clever ways to add a healthy spin to her dishes.
She is an experimental cook, not afraid to break conventions. The only rule she abides by is that her dishes must have spices such as curry powder, soy sauce, and turmeric.
“Food that stands out for me is curries. They are thick, spicy and full of flavour and they have to it this beautiful aroma,”she said.Her must-have kitchen gadgets are sharp knives.
“I don’t think there’s a perfect kitchen tool. It is good as long as it’s easy to handle, use, and clean afterward. The most expensive gadget that was worth buying has to be the oven. I had to sweat for it since I also love to bake and that means the hand mixer too was worth the pennies,” she says.
As a rule of thumb, Sharon recommends, “Clean as you cook.” She picked the slogan from her parents who hated a dirty kitchen or counters cluttered with bowls and spoons.
She says the most important advice to remember, however, is that “A little patience and love will do it.”
Also, taste everything, learn to use oil and most of all grocery stores don’t sell the freshest vegetables. Would she consider cooking as a profession? I ask.
“I would not. A commercial kitchen has too much pressure and the language there is not for me. I have a diploma in hotel management so I’m a hotelier by profession.”
She is currently working on a YouTube channel that will focus on restaurant and recipe reviews from Kenya and all over the world just like Mark Weins.
“I would travel for food. That is what I am currently working on. I have a new page on Instagram @chi.emo and Facebook @chiemo. chiemo is derived from Dholuo meaning food,” she says.
Sharon Olale’s recipes
Chicken Wings Ingredients /Serves 4
• 1 kg wings
• 2 tablespoon soy sauce
• 2 tablespoon honey
• 1 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 cup of BBQ sauce
--Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and dip chicken wings into the mixture.
--Bake the wings in a preheated for about 20 to 30 minutes
--When cooked bast again with the left over mixture and enjoy.
Lamb Shank Ingredients
• 4 pieces of shank
• 1 onion finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
• 1-tablespoon paprika
• 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs
• 1-cup dry red wine
• 1-cup stock
• 1-cup tomato puree
• 2-tablespoon olive oil
• 2 bay leaves
--Heat the oil, brown the meat on both sides, and set aside In the same pot, add a bit of oil
--Fry onion, pour puree and stir Add paprika, herbs and bay leaves
--Put the meat in an oven dish
--Pour over the onion mixture
--Cover with tinfoil and cook in the oven for three to four hours depending on the size of the shanks.