Sa-far-i-way from home by Kevin Barron Part 5 Executive Chef Ole Sereni Hotel Kenya

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th April 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 5 (Part 4 can be viewed HERE) The hotel picks up very quickly and soon we are busy in the restaurant there is nothing that compares to this place in Nairobi with all the 5 sections in the restaurant being live kitchens, the view from the restaurant and terrace is stunning overlooking the park and you can often see Giraffe, Zebra, Eland and lots of Ostrich, Im told there is no city in the world with a game park in its vicinity which is pretty amazing. The menu is working well, I had purposely kept it brasserie style so we don't get carried away its 130 covers and numbers aside it would be easy to get carried away with presentation etc but we will have the fine dine opening soon, and we don't want the two to clash. The banquets are slow to come in, but a start with few small meetings with buffet lunches to get us up and running , in the next few months, some strange things happen, well strange to the boy who grew up on a council estate in Luton and who has only ever worked in the UK, The Hotel as I said borders the game park on one side and a track which leads to the main highway and Wilson Airport a small internal Airport where small Cessna planes operate flights, to all the other Game Parks, I have never flown from there yet but it would be great to take off over the park and then fly over Kenya,  and land over the animals in say Massai Mara or Samburu where you literally land in the park on an airstrip that often needs the animals clearing away before the planes can land.  I have been on Safaris in the car and watched the planes coming in. It would be such a cool way to go on Safari that and the Hot Air Balloons which take off at first light from your camp, then take you over the parks and then land in the bush where a Land Rover waits to pick you up for breakfast and champagne in the bush!! This country can be as magical as it can be crazy, I have just remembered me and Ania are driving in the city and all the highways here have gulleys running along the roads as when the rains comes it comes, and it's very heavy and flooding is so common, so Ania jerks left and strains out the window my natural reaction is whoa whats up she says theres a guy standing in the knee high gulley washing himself wow I say TIA this IS Africa anything seems to go, No No she says the guy was butt naked!! Anyway back to work, One morning very early a Giraffe comes very very close to the hotel and gets spooked by something or other, and it jumps the electric fence, which only has a track big enough for one car between us and the hotel, the Giraffe runs up the track, we never see it again and no-one actually knew exactly what happened to the Giraffe, it is not completely out of the question to think it may have been caught and killed and used for meat that happens here in Kenya. Another morning a Hippo has wandered all the way across the park area looking for water as the drought that year had really been bad and lots of animals, sadly dying, worse still cattle which can feed villages and families are perishing daily with the heat and no water, so this huge Hippo actually came near to the staff gate where all the boys and girls enter for work, now hippo's are very very dangerous animals so the police are called,  soon the police and the wardens are holding off hordes of people with machetes ready to butcher the Hippo and feed their families , the police and the wardens hold them off and a truck comes they sedate the Hippo and winch him up and away I don't think he realizes how lucky he was to escape this time!! So where are we oh yes nearly Christmas now last year I spent Christmas in Mombasa in the pool with my four poster suite at my boutique hotel right on the beach, literally a 2 minute walk to the beach bar, cold beers and swimming in the Indian Ocean!! This year I guess will be much much different!! Oh and Ania is heavily pregnant with the soon to arrive Kasia so its all go on all fronts!!! Most of Nairobi clears out during the holidays, with people travelling to their rural homes and out to the coast for Christmas so we are not expecting to be busy but still im hoping we will be, menus are done a Tasting Menu Christmas Eve and a carved buffet Christmas Day and a nice brunch BBQ Boxing Day, booking s are slow but I still plan on around a 100 covers for Christmas Day, Christmas Eve we do around 45-50 not bad for a hotel not yet established and for a time of year when everyone is saying oh you wont be busy, Christmas Day comes I had given my Exec Sous Christmas off and he was very happy so its down to me and the restaurant Sous to get it all done, it was hard going and at one point it was tight, but we put on a very nice lunch and we end up doing around 145 for lunch we are all very chuffed with this and the feedback from the guest is superb, a good day im done around 5 and after checking the set up for dinner, we are just going with a simple dinner buffet, no a la carte im off home, my turkey was cooked here and I had got some Foie Gras brought in and I had made into a potted parfait , baked some brioche, so happy days im off to the good lady, Boxing Day is my day off so all is well. The period I between Christmas and New Year is very quiet so we have a good clean up, organise N Y Eve and get rid of some of the public holiday (lieu days) that my team has accrued. New Years Eve the GM at the time had made a bad call and took on an outside entertainment company who will hold their own event, sell their own tickets and we will get a percentage, the food buffet is massive (sadly as he had agreed) and we are getting a very small allocation, the event is very badly planned and we have really missed out, a real lesson in how not to do things im sure, For me the year has ended poorly and is a sign of the times to come"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦"¦..

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 20th April 2011

Sa-far-i-way from home by Kevin Barron Part 5 Executive Chef Ole Sereni Hotel Kenya