Nestlé Professional crowns the country’s top culinary talent

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Corretta Akinyi, Chef de Partie from Ole Sereni, emerged as the overall winner during the inaugural MAGGI Junior Chef Competition organized by leading food and beverage provider for the out-of-home segment, Nestlé Professional. She managed to scoop the top chef prize of a 3 day trip to visit the Electrolux Factory in Italy and spend time in the beautiful city of Venice.

The first runner-up prize went to Kamal Singh, Romania Sous from Haandi & Haveli Restaurant who won a 5 day trip to Brussels including a 3 day seminar at Puratos University in Groot-Bijgarden while the second runner-up prize went to Mildred Odhiambo, a Junior Sous Chef, at the Tamarind Group Restaurant won a trip to the HOSTEX Expo 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Launched in September, 120 Chefs from the country participated in the inaugural MAGGI® Chef forum, paving way for the second round where the final 10 were selected in a draw a fortnight ago. During the draw, the selection was conducted by hospitality students from Kenya Utalii College and the International Hotel and Tourism Institute (IHTI).

“If the number of entries we received for the MAGGI Junior Chef competition at the onset is anything to go by, it is just but one way of showcasing the amount of talent we have in the country,” said Rabie Issa, Country Business Manager, Nestlé Professional.

The ten junior chefs who participated today were drawn from some of the country’s best hotels and restaurants.  They included: The Intercontinental, The Tamarind, Best western Premier, Pampa Churrascaria, Kivi Milimani Hotel, Ole Sereni, Lenana Mount Hotel, Pride inn Hotel, O’sinkirri restaurant and Haandi & Haveli Restaurant.

The ten finalists will also matched with hospitality students who will have the opportunity to work under the chefs for two weeks.  During today’s competition held at Utalii College, the students who selected the Chefs during the draw, worked closely with them as their assistants.

“Our students got a golden chance to interact and be inspired by professionals in the industry. As mentors, professionals have played a most important role in developing tomorrow’s top chefs,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Ombongi, Principal, Kenya Utalii College.

In just under two and a half hours, the chefs prepared a main course dish in an interactive cooking demo using Nestlé products – MAGGI® Rich Flavors and Cubes- and other raw ingredients of choice, battling it out for the top position.

“To keep up with discerning consumers and changing lifestyle needs, it is the chef’s responsibility to constantly innovate and refresh their skills. This is the only way we can maintain that edge in service delivery across the hospitality industry,” said Joseph Onchwati, Development Chef for Nestlé.

“In addition, we’re also looking at nurturing young skills and that is why we selected ten of the best students from Kenya Utalii College and IHTI to intern with the professional chefs in the wake of the competition,” added Onchwati.

The judging criterion was an all-round assessment of the chef’s skills, from novelty and innovation, taste, presentation, work speed and ultimately work organization and cleanliness.

In the end, three winning recipes were selected by a judging panel that comprised of Chef Mohsine Korich a two time Michelin star chef, executive chef at the Fairview Hotel, Nic Wang’ondu, host of Mashiriki Mix, a lifestyle show on DSTV and Joseph Onchwati, Development Chef for Nestlé.

The MAGGI® junior Chef competition comes just in time when the country is preparing to host the premier Food and Hospitality Fair (HOSTEX) in March next year.

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