Today we introduce you to Joseph Mwangi, known to many as Chef Mwas.
He runs Chef Mwas Kitchen offering food delivery services in Malindi, and has earned the trust of many clients including banks, law firms, hospitals, private villas as well as different offices and individuals.
He also offers catering services for events like weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, graduation parties and many more.
Here is an exclusive interview I had with Chef Mwas:
When did you fall in love with being in the kitchen?
My passion for the culinary industry began as a young boy. I am actually the lastborn in a family of 4 boys. Since we didn’t have a sister, I loved helping my mum in the kitchen. I learnt cooking most of the meals from her, and that spark my interest in food and the hospitality industry at large.
During my teenage years, I used to admire my elder brother’s bestfriend – Chef Joel Maina. His lifestyle as a Chef motivated me to become one. (He is still one of my mentors to date).
Moreover, reality shows like Hell’s Kitchen by Chef Gordin Ramsey motivated me in a lot of ways – which helped me to do my best to try new dishes and sharpen my cooking skills.
With my career path well cut out, I joined The University of Nairobi to study Hospitality Management, majoring in Food Production and Kitchen Management and graduated in December 2011.
How was your path like, after campus?
After graduation, I interned at Nairobi Club, and then moved to Mode Africa as a cook, rising the ranks upto Chef de partie. I then joined Muthaiga Golf Club before joining KFC as Head Chef where I was responsible for the kitchen management, training and development. I later joined hands with friends in the culinary industry and started outside catering services in Nairobi as well as travelling across the country for events.
How did you find yourself in Malindi?
In 2018 my friend, Dr. Paul Kimani, the proprietor of Kibali Villas Resort called me to help run his restaurant at the villa. I was excited to work in a different environment from where I was used to. I worked there for quite some time.
During Churchill Show – Malindi Edition in March 2019, I had the privilege of working as Churchill’s personal chef while residing at the villa with his team. He was happy with my services and encouraged me to start my own food business – something I had always wanted to venture into.
I started my catering services in April 2019.
Tell us more about your catering services
I cook and deliver super tasty and delicious African food to clients’ offices from Monday to Friday, currently during lunch hours. Each meal on the menu costs Kshs. 200. Delivery is free along Lamu Road only. For clients beyond Lamu road, a delivery fee is paid depending on the location and distance. People can order for their food by calling/ texting or sending a WhatsApp message to 0719 548405 before 11:00 AM on weekdays.
I have also partnered with Jikoni Eats, a food delivery app where clients can order food and get 25% discount.
What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing in your catering business right now?
- At the moment I walk while taking orders. I hope to get a bike or car soon to help in taking and delivering orders.
- My menu is a bit constrained because I lack a restaurant. This year am hoping to have a restaurant that will enable me to have a variety of dishes.
What’s your favorite dish to make and why?
Chicken is my favorite dish to make, because there are so many ways one can prepare it. For instance one can deep fry, stew, roast or boil and every process will come out different from the other.
What’s the secret to cooking the perfect chapati?
Mix all the ingredients (flour, sugar, salt & oil) in a bowl. After kneading with warm water, let the dough rest for about 15 minutes. Then cut huge chunks as you roll and apply oil. Cut the rolled dough into strips and then into round balls of your size. With that then be sure of perfect and layered out chapatis.
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
Who are your culinary heroes and what lessons from them continue to keep you going?
Internationally I look up to Chef Gordon Ramsey, while locally Chef Raphael does the magic.
Having watched Chef Gordon Ramsey for a couple of years in his reality show Hell’s Kitchen, I have learnt a lot from him, but there’s one statement that has stuck in my mind ever since I was a teenager:
“If something is bad, it’s bad. Don’t pimp it!”
This means that you don’t have to sugar coat anything in the kitchen. Call a spade a spade.
For Chef Raphael, he has done an amazing job. From being an influencer, teacher and a chef. Watching him do his cooking tutorials challenges me a lot and gives me motivation to go hard.
How do you handle cutting onions without ruining your eyes?
I soak the onions in salty water before cutting them
It seems all chefs prefer using stainless steel cookware but how do you keep them clean, like with no black stains on the cook surface?
While preparing food, always regulate your heat every now and then to avoid burning of food and staining of the pan/cooking pot. Moreover, do not dump the pan/cooking pot in the sink after use. Always clean as you move.
Do you ever get tired of making the same meals over and over?
No I don’t get tired at all. In fact it’s fun doing this every day. I’m really passionate about it.
Can disabled people be professional chefs?
Yes they can. We have different sections of the kitchen and others don’t require much movement. For instance the cold kitchen section, where salads & appetizers are prepared. The only disabled people who cannot be professional chefs are the blind. This is for obvious reasons known to us.
What cooking technique was the most difficult to master for you, and how did you finally do it?
Pan tossing was very difficult for me when I started but with time and practice, I managed to perfect it.
How do you get the smell of garlic off your fingers?
Use a little bit of salt and lemon juice to scrub your hands. Then wash in running tap water.
Do you or are have you considered offering cooking lessons?
Yes I have. Sharing this culinary knowledge has been something that I have always dreamt of. This is a project that is underway and people should check out my social media handles for more information.