Chef Ernest Kayondo

Chef

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A recipe has no soul, you as the cook must bring soul to the recipe!

This is an interview on Chef Ernest Kayondo

Question: What is your name & which country are you from? (give us a brief background about yourself)

Answer: I am called Ernest Kayondo, though Chef Paul calls me Ernesto (laughs…) I am a 28-year-old Ugandan with a Bachelors in Finance and Banking from Kampala International University. I am from the Royal family, happily married and with one child. I am a vegetarian as well and currently pursuing a Baking course at the Cake Studio on Buganda road.

Question: How long have you been a chef and what inspired you to cook?

Answer: So far, this is my 11th year as a chef. I started cooking practice in my senior two with private lessons at home and officially started cooking in my senior 6 vacation. What inspired me was the level of Art and creativity that revolves around cooking from cooking recipes to how food is presented on the plate.

Question: How and where were you trained?

Answer: I was given personal cooking lessons by a chef at my sister’s house, that was how is was able to adopt my cooking skills.

Question: Where did you draw your menu from or what inspired you to come up with the Le Chateau fine dining menu?

Answer: Umm, personally I did not design the menu. It was set up by our executive chef, Paul and I have been able to learn the new recipes by observing how he cooks plus timely practice. He can now leave me in charge of the kitchen and be sure all will be prepared to perfection.

Question: What is your favorite cuisine to cook?

Answer: Escargots – The escargot is a cooked land snail. Escargots are usually served as a starter in Portugal, Spain and in France, and are a typical dish in the Catalan region of Spain.

My second best is our special Beef or Chicken “Cowboy” which you will never find anywhere apart from Le Chateau and La Patisserie. It is a very artistic food setting (you should try it).

Question: What is your easiest recipe?

Answer: French crepes are my easiest to make.

Question: What is your most memorable cooking experience?

Answer: There is this one time I was called to cook for the King of Tooro on his birthday in 2008. Also the 2007 CHOGM meeting that was in Kampala where the Prime Minister of Singapore came for dinner & I was part of the team that prepared his meal.

Question: What is your favorite wine? Tell me about pairing wine and food.

Answer: My favorite wine is Malan from South Africa and I am a red wine kind of person. Yes, we do food & wine pairing. For white meat, we use white wine and red wine for the red meat.

Question: If you were told that your food cost was high, what five things would you look at first?

Answer: The biggest thing I would consider is the dollar rate in Uganda because it has a huge impact on all Ugandan sectors. Next would be the cost of producing the food, inflation and the rate at which the economy is growing.

Question: Are you supporting the Ugandan local market? What locally grown Ugandan produce do you use in your kitchen?

Answer: Yes, we really do use local produce mostly the vegetables, meat, Ugandan made cheese and dairy products. What we import are foods we cannot get in Uganda like Mussels.

Question: Are you a team player? Describe your usual role in a team-centered work environment?

Answer: I am a big-time team player because I believe in working environments like mine, you cannot succeed without a team. I am the deputy chef of the kitchen.

Question: Tell me about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career.

Answer: Being able to have this job and do the best at it is my biggest accomplishment. From my career, I was able to pay my own tuition when I was at university.

Question: “Time is the missing ingredient in our recipes—and in our lives.” Do you feel that this, ultimately, has led to our reliance on eating processed foods, largely on the go or out of the house? Any quick easy to do meals?

Answer: 

  1. Tracking food cost and inventory daily .i.e. if you have a consistent idea of where you are it gives you the idea of where to look.
  2. Ordering wisely: portion controlling.
  3. Decrease waste: being creative with scrap.
  4. Balancing the menu .i.e. rice-heavy cuisine, protein heavy cuisine.
  5. Avoiding abrupt menu price increases.

“Food cost has to be a living and breathing thing thing.”

Question: Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking?

Answer: (gets excited) I really wanted to be a neural surgeon when I was growing up and our neighbor who was the biggest neural surgeon at that time in Mulago Hospital was my biggest inspiration.

Question: What foods are you craving the most right now?

Answer: Right now, I am craving some Indian food and Chicken biryani.

Question: Is there one food that you’re secretly obsessed with having at home?

Answer: Matooke and smoked fish in Groundnuts.

Question: Is there food that you hate?

Answer: A combination of Posho & Groundnuts.

Question: Do you think being a great chef is a natural talent, or is it something anyone can learn?

Answer: It is a natural talent. I believe in nurturing talents so if you build on it, like any other talent you are then destined for success.

Question: Of all the items on Le Chateau Menu, which is your favorite to make?

Answer: Lacquered pork ribs house style, green salads with cherry tomatoes & pineapples, Jacked Potato

Question: What trends are you seeing in dining today, and which are you most excited by?

Answer: Fine dining is one of those things that we picked and have now perfected from serving not just good food but high quality freshly served food and class.

 

*Thank You for sparing time to have this interview*