Farm Africa: Ashley Palmer-Watts returns to visit Joyce and ‘Ashley’s Pond’

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th January 2017

Ashley Palmer-Watts, head chef of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which holds two stars in the Michelin Guide UK, has been working with Farm Africa for over five years.

In this blog Ashley returns to Kenya to visit fish farmer, Joyce who named her pond after the Michelin-starred chef.

Ashley's pond
Ashley's pond

In 2012 Ashley travelled to Kenya and met Joyce Kadenge, a fish farmer from Kisumu in western Kenya who was receiving training, technical and marketing advice and equipment from Farm Africa to enable her to set up and manage her own fishponds. Inspired by the work of Farm Africa, Ashley went on to climb Kilimanjaro with others from the catering industry to raise a stunning £50,000.

Joyce’s dream is to educate her children and grandchildren from a profitable fish farming business. On his last visit Ashley got stuck in, cooking fish in new ways for Joyce and her neighbours as well as helping to dig out a new fish pond for her. Once finished Joyce named the pond ‘Ashley’s pond’.

This week, Ashley is in Kenya to launch Nairobi Restaurant Week, the city’s most exciting and biggest culinary event that involves 60 top restaurants offering distinctive menus at fixed prices from Thursday 26 January to Sunday 5 February 2017.

Nairobi Restaurant Week will be officially launched at a charity cocktail night being held on Thursday 19 January that is hosted by EatOut Kenya, with all proceeds from ticket sales being donated to Farm Africa.

Joyce Kadenge
Joyce Kadenge

For Ashley this was also an opportunity to take some time out to revisit Joyce and ‘his’ pond to see how things have been going.

“It has been brilliant to come back and see Joyce and her family and the aquaculture programme. Three years after I was last here and there is still a lot of work to be done, especially given the challenges of the drought at the moment. Life continues to be hard for smallholder farmers in this part of Kenya but it is great to see the good work continuing by Farm Africa. It was amazing to visit Joyce’s grandchildren at school too.”

For Joyce, the support and training she has had from Farm Africa has made all the difference to the success of her business.

“With Farm Africa, we know when we are harvesting that they can take our fish to the people who are buying or bring the buyers here. Before we started doing fishponds people around us thought we were just joking but now they know it is serious business. I would recommend fish farming to others and encourage people I know because when you harvest you can get an income. I can show others the ways to farm fish. “

On this trip to Kenya for Nairobi Restaurant week, Ashley has been accompanied by Dennis Mwakula, group chef for Eversheds, Restaurant Associates.

Dennis

Dennis Mwakula,

group chef for Eversheds, Restaurant Associates

Dennis grew up in Nairobi but moved to London in 1994 to study Business and Finance. He then had a ‘revelation’ that cooking was his way forward when he was working, to fund his studies, as a kitchen porter in one of the investment banks. Dennis is delivering the canape menu at the launch on Thursday alongside Alan Murungi, Head Chef and Master Brewer at Sierra, Nairobi and Luca Pintus, Head Chef at Tribe Hotel, Nairobi.

“I am really looking forward to the Nairobi Restaurant Week launch event with Farm Africa on Thursday and cooking in Africa where we can utilise the products being produced by the Farm Africa projects I have visited. I am looking to forward to using the event to showcase what Kenyan food can be.”

Dennis felt it was important as a city boy to visit the rural regions of his country to see how some of the food for Nairobi’s top hotels is sourced. He travelled to Kisumu with Ashley to visit Joyce.

“This trip has been a great eye-opener into what Farm Africa does for the smallholder farmers and see the challenges they face. It is clear we just need to do more.”

>>> Read more of the latest blogs here

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th January 2017

Farm Africa: Ashley Palmer-Watts returns to visit Joyce and ‘Ashley’s Pond’