Sa-far-i-way from home by Kevin Barron Part 3 Executive Chef Ole Sereni Hotel Kenya

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd February 2011
Kevin Barron is Executive Chef at Ole Sereni Hotel Kenya, Kevin shares his overseas journey, offering a Chefs' eye view, of the life of an Ex-Pat in Kenya PART 3 (Part 2 can be viewed HERE) Well after all that she said yes!!! We came back to Nairobi for New Years Eve and decide to stay in just the 2 of us and have some good food and drinks we get the local coconuts and hollow them out and make cocktails sipping them out of the coconuts, on the balcony whilst watching fireworks going off in the night sky. Happy New Year !!???  it will be if we can get this hotel opened"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦.. So enough of this holiday Shenaniganns we have a hotel to open, well not exactly, not for a while yet, the next couple of months are hard there is only so much you can do whilst other things are not in place, we  jump to around April for the sake of it as not much of any note happened to be fair, we went on a few Safaris etc and I have seen some pretty amazing wildlife I have to say, April comes and we come home for a Christening where im Godfather to little Shannon my mate Darrens little girl,    I probably shouldn't say but for the weeks before we keep checking if Ania is pregnant, so we are walking back up to my mums from my old local when she says, Hon I think im pregnant I say stupidly how do you know and she says as I have done the test!! (moron) that was what I am not what she said,   Ania flies to Poland as I have to get back to Kenya, although we are still miles away. I am now pushing hard for equipment don't want to get caught out and a lot of the kit has been bought by the CEO on what he thinks a kitchen should have (I still have lots of kit I will never use including 30 yes 30 Xmas Tree cake moulds around 45 cm long what the chuff am I gonna use all them for and who the hell thought of it?   The amount of money that has been wasted on different things is criminal I could have invested a lot of money buying things that will help the kitchen and make our lives easier.   But Hey Ho!! Ania goes to her Doc in Poland and the news is confirmed we are going to be parents, ha-ha oh shit are we ready and oh dear in Kenya?? How/Who/Why/Where/What. There are rumours that Sheraton are sniffing about to manage our hotel on behalf of the Directors, Strange as we were told the CEO had planned to open it, stay a year then hand over to a GM, that never happens now and and we are told that Sarovar a big Hotel Management company in India are now coming in and will run the hotel and soon the company No.2 Mr Bakaya will come over and meet us all,  wow so much is changing from what had been agreed and told and promised to me I gotta say at this stage im not exactly sure how I feel but its not a good feeling either way, he does and we are all introduced and told how it will be, it doesn't seem to change all that much for me to be fair, they will still need a chef "¦"¦"¦"¦"¦.so we will see. So we are nearly done on the kitchen but the other areas are very very slow to come together,a few more months pass and things are getting heated between the CEO and the Directors, they are seeing no return or likely return on the masses they have put in, everything had a budget and most things have gone over some things by 20's of millions (Shillings) a pound is 124 shillings there or there abouts, then disaster hits , I have to say I saw it coming,  too many staff including me have been brought on too early we are now around 30-40 people and nowhere near opening, we get called in and told we are all being put on 50% wage with the rest being paid back in the first 3 months after opening, Sod that im outta here"¦"¦"¦ Late after work one night 2 of the Directors are leaving when they are held at gunpoint and robbed car, laptop, cash the lot even one of the robbers shooting at the hotel during the episode!! Wow!!!!   I didn't sign up to go to war, I'm only here to cook eh?? Jesus are we really staying here?? Still?? Ok that's all well and good but where do we go back to UK/Europe, where?? When??  and after putting everything in place and getting so close can we walk away now??   mmmm, So off to the CEO's office I go. I tell him fairly straight if that's how it will be I'm out of here, he sets up a meet with the bosses and on the side one of them offers to pay me cash half of the 50% that will be taken away,"¦"¦"¦. OK so we stay?? Lots of thought goes in here for at least a month and the feeling of knowing we are so close is too strong to hold onto to, we will stay and see how it goes"¦"¦"¦"¦..oh and a baby on the way as if the pressure wasn't enough. That must have been around June/July Then something I will never forget for the rest of my days hits me like a ton of bricks, actually I lie something big but not as big happens, the CEO quits!!   a new GM is quickly in place and we are given 1 on 1's with the CEO the new GM and Mr Bakaya,  I am told your valued etc etc the normal storyline I would have thought for a company brought in so close to opening and I'm also told the corporate chefs "˜speciality' is pre-opening hotels so here I sit with no previous experience of pre-opening, thinking no chuffing way is some corporate dude coming in here and rattling my pans, they must have seen the shock and fear because I am told he will not be coming here I'mm more than capable of doing it myself, that's cool so maybe these guys are ok then and we will be fine, Mr Bakaya goes the CEO soon after so we are left with the new GM who is only in the country a matter of weeks and is desperately trying to catch up on where we are with opening!!! Oh S**T. Ania finds a place with a designer from the UK who lives in Kenya who handmakes Nursery Furniture, we go visit and are hooked on a stunning 4 poster cot with the drapes the whole lot!!!  which then becomes a rocking chair, changing table/dresser and a little bedside table, I have not seen stuff this good in the UK and think cool it should be cheaper er no we agree to pay nearly £1500 pounds but hey she will be worth it, oh yes forgot to say the bump is growing into a little girl we had to find out as we will need to get things from the UK next visit as the choice here sadly isn't huge. So the day starts pretty much like any other, lovely sunny and warm, get to work and lunchtime i go to the bank and take out 50 Grand!!! That's shillings haha so about 450 pounds, stick it in my drawer at work and at 5 leave the office to go and pay the deposit on this lush furniture for our soon-to-be-here little girl's nursery,  the car is parked just outside the hotel compound next to the fence I get  to the car and the driver isn't in the car, I call him and he is upstairs in the office, he has the keys so I stand at the back of my 4x4 talking to my pastry chef who I am dropping off on the way to pay the furniture, gassing away and this small guy comes up and says give me your wallet "˜m just about to laugh literally   (don't know why) he then is joined by 2 "˜mates' and the 1st guy pulls a gun, now let me tell you the first thing you think about is not  Ok  Action Movie time and spin round grab the gun spin him round holding his hand on the gun shoot the other 2, break his neck and job done. Not even close chef not even close, I am going to tell you it just like it was no Hollywood glitz or B/S this actually happened to me, A state of paralysed fear washes over you and you stand there pleading like a small child especially after the gun is jammed into my side!!  I actually panicked so much I foolishly tried to pull him back into the compound via the security gate which by the way was unmanned, because as soon as this happens the gaurds do a runner (oh s**t im in trouble here) Well I hear you ask dear reader why didn't you pull him in he was only little and I'm not exactly a small chap. The next thing I hear makes me stop absolutely dead, I'm pulling him he is yelling in KiSwahili and then CLICK!!!!! He cocks the F' ing gun!! I do not move an inch he goes through my pockets quick and I must admit very efficiently and finds my wallet I tell him come on please don't take the cards they are UK cards no use here to you, he then finds the 50K !!! Then as quick as it happens and they are away up the track by the side of the park by this time we find out later the cops are on the way, and I'm shaking I tell you I am not afraid to admit I'm frigging shaking. Few weeks later im having a natter with a mate who says eh come on it was probably a replica!!! Ha-ha yes right know how I know because 200 metres up the road they opened fire on a 4x4 and hijack it and let me tell you the crack of a gun is something I hope I never hear again unless im watching the TV!!! Kevin Barron Executive Chef | Ole Sereni Hotel Nairobi | KENYA Kevins Blog http://anafricookingadventure.blogspot.com/

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd February 2011

Sa-far-i-way from home by Kevin Barron Part 3 Executive Chef Ole Sereni Hotel Kenya