Executive Chef Mwatamu Masoud of Elewana AfroChic Diani Beach shares his favourite dishes, where he gets inspiration and more in our conversation.
How do you develop new dishes for the menu?
For a new dish, I normally go to my guests and ask them what do you like to eat? That's where I start. AfroChic is a very intimate property which enables me to have the chance to meet with guests upon their arrival and get to know their preferences.
How do you make a guest feel welcome?
It starts with getting to know their tastes. Many of our guests come back again and again so it's important to remember what they like. I have different recipes for different guests. Some like things spicy, and some don’t. Often, I receive emails from guests asking me to make their favourite dishes. Each guest remembers a certain dish fondly, for some it’s crab cakes while others might ask for prawn samosas, each person is different.
What are some of your favourite ingredients?
I enjoy coastal based spices like ginger, garlic, pilau spice masala and I also like fresh herbs like dill, coriander, parsley, basil.
How do you train your staff?
We have a big a la carte menu so our training is continuous. I explain to the chefs the high quality which is expected of each order and monitor the process from start to finish.
During quiet times, I schedule time with all the cooks and review their performance, identifying areas for improvement, new trends, dietary requirements etc. We then set a training schedule based on the needs and set a time frame to master new skills before we embark on our busy working days.
What inspires you?
My goal is to make the best food ever for every guest that comes to AfroChic. Exceptional dining is a memory that lasts a long time. Food is a big part of the reason people travel especially for our repeat clients. The art of cooking has become a part of my life and I endeavour to make it a legacy and pass it along to future generations.
What do you love about your job?
I enjoy meeting new people and teaching them as well. We have a tradition we like to offer groups of families and friends or couples visiting. We set up a friendly cooking competition known as a Koroga (Swahili word means "mixing") on our garden deck. It's a class-like structure where we teach them to do stir fries and curries and I guide them through the process, but it's also a friendly competition. We have one family who comes every December, and the main thing they want to do is the Koroga. This is the fun part about my job!