Friends, I am sorry for introducing myself a bit late… I was your chef at the Monthly Online Picnic in Musanze, I loved doing that for you — so I am back to invite you to the next Picnic at Lake Burera on 27 March 2021! I will also be bringing in a nice new idea proposed by our member Romana…
My Professional Story
Let’s do this properly this time, with some personal and professional background first: I grew up in Kigali in a family of cooks. For example, my auntie is now a chef in Argentina! I studied at Utali College in Kenya, then gained professional experience at the Kigali Serena Hotel (Rwanda), ran my own restaurant in Arusha (Tanzania) and returned to my hometown for a job at Manor Hotel in Kigali. I was then invited to work in a national park, and I couldn’t miss that opportunity — it is at Akagera Game Lodge that I learned about the Gorilla Highlands idea.
I represented the lodge at the Gorilla Highlands Silverchef cooking competition and networking event in 2017 at Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda, and that is when the staff of Kigali Marriott saw me do well and offered me a job. The next year I won the competition in Kigali, becoming the first Rwandan winner. This victory played an important role in giving me the chance to test my skills in West Africa in 2019-2020, as the Sheraton’s sous chef in Conakry, Guinea.
I’ve been back in Rwanda since August 2020, first helping set up Nyurah restaurant in Kigali and now working as a consultant at several hospitality locations. I am lucky to be a freelancer at the time of Covid as my professional colleagues have been hit hard. They are among the first victims when the virus hits, not because they easily get it — though I know of 10 chefs who fell ill! — but because it costs them their jobs.
On the other hand, the pandemic is a chance to acquire more knowledge. I have the time to study new culinary courses — for instance I have earned a certificate in Mediterranean Food & Diets from the University of Athens. My experience and skills now give me the courage to think about opening my own restaurant in Kigali.
… And I am glad that Miha feels I qualify to be a Gorilla Highlands Expert!
Join Me at the Lake Burera (Online) Picnic
My social media followers saw photos from the Musanze Picnic. That got them excited and they asked if they could join the next Picnic physically. At the weekly Zoom meeting with the Gorilla Highlands Experts team I fronted that suggestion, and the answer was: YES.
At this moment we can’t tell you yet what financial contribution you will have to make but I will warn you: on Lake Burera’s Cyuza Island the only accommodation option will be camping in their quite simple tents! As the picnic will begin at 5pm Rwandan time, there will be no option of going home, or sleeping anywhere else. We will leave Kigali in the early morning of Saturday 27 March and be back on Sunday 28 March in the evening.
Now, to that suggestion by Romana… Those of you who won’t be with us physically but rather online, can join in the cooking as long as you prepare these ingredients:
BURERA SPRING ROLLS (serves 8 people, one roll each)
2 whole avocados
8 rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
24 cooked crayfish – peeled, deveined and cut in half
1 ⅓ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
2 leaves lettuce, chopped
4 teaspoons fish sauce
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon garlic pili pili sauce
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon finely chopped local peanuts
BAO BUNS STUFFED WITH FISH CAKE (15 pieces)
BUNS — if you wish to be advanced or can’t find bao buns in your shops:
525 g mix flour (150 g millet flour, 100 g cassava flour, 275 g wheat flour) plus extra for dusting
1½ tbsp caster sugar, plus a pinch
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
50 ml milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for brushing and for the bowl
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp baking powder
4-5 spring onions (thinly sliced on the diagonal)
6 tbsp mayo mixed with 1 tsp radish paste
450 g potatoes (chopped into chunks)
450 g mixed frozen fish
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 egg (beaten)
vegetable oil (for frying)
freshly ground black pepper
4 fat garlic cloves (finely chopped)
thumb-sized ginger (peeled and finely chopped)
I know, I know… Where you are you might not be able to get all these. Do not despair!
Get as many of the items on the list as you can get. Fresh herbs can be substituted with dried ones and crayfish with shrimp. If you can’t get good avocados, you will simply stuff the rolls with the rest of the ingredients!
I will return with the details soon. (Members will get them emailed of course.)