April 14, 2011 – “I just enjoy cooking so much that I end up working during my vacation too. I’m just completely passionate about food!” Chef Rose Ang explained when asked how she ended up in Kenya during her vacation from her fulltime position as the Executive Chef of the Belvedere Hotel (Mykonos, Greece).
Cooking since the tender age of 10, Chef Rose Ang, a young female voice in a traditionally male dominated profession, attended culinary school in Singapore and has since built a reputable reputation as an innovator of East Meets West cuisine.
Visiting at the Tamambo restaurants at Karen Blixen Coffee Garden and The Mall, and also at Tamarind Mombasa; Chef Ang is presenting an 8-course menu showcasing contemporary Oriental Cuisine.
Chef Ang sat down with Capital Lifestyle after a flawless service at Karen Blixen Coffee Garden for a rare candid one-on-one…
Q: Aside from being an Executive Chef, Food and Beverage Manager, a businesswoman, and also a visiting chef extraordinaire; how do you manage?
A: I have a great team that I work with but at the end of the day, I am very hands-on and you need to be.
Q: I know that you just launched a dessert restaurant called Sweet Sweet Tooth in Singapore…just 6 months old – how do you ensure your restaurant will be successful?
A: [laughs] How did you know about Sweet Sweet Tooth? I try to keep my involvement low-key. Regardless, I have a good team but I also have CCTV installed. So I can always see what’s really going on at the restaurant.
It’s not meant to intimidate my employees, but I just really want to be on the ground as much as possible.
Q: What’s your impression of the Kenyan service industry?
A: I think there’s a lot of potential and opportunity here. Africa as a continent is still portrayed in usually a negative light, which is usually unrealistic. There are a lot of up-and-coming restaurants and hotels in Kenya and passionate people work there. So, things can only get better and the service industry will attract more tourists.
Q: Have you experimented with a lot of indigenous Kenyan ingredients?
A: Actually, I haven’t had much time to experiment. But the seafood that I’ve tasted and used is so fresh! The snapper in the menu was just caught from Mombasa.
Q: Speaking of the snapper, is there a specific reason why you used white snapper instead of red snapper in your 4th course?
A: You see, as a chef you must see what is available. Originally I designed the menu with red snapper but it wasn’t available. You have to be able to create with what you have. Sometimes the result is even better.
Q: Suggestions for aspiring chefs in Kenya?
A: How much do you want it? You have to love it. You have to be extremely passionate about food and a very hard worker. In this profession, there are no holidays with family and friends since those are your busiest days, and you work 14 or 16 hours a day. That’s half the battle.
PHOTO CREDITS: Susan Wong
Norwegian salmon confit in coriander infused olive oil, served on a bed of mango citrus salsa
Crabmeat topped with flying fish roe and scallions, gratinated with spicy cream
“Angel hair potato” crispy golden shrimp with an oriental style ratatouille sweet sour sauce
Braised pork belly in oriental five spice broth and Daikon radish, accompanied with homemade bread
Warm chocolate cake, coconut tulip & Pandan ice cream