MEET THE CHEF: Rose Oyugi Soula

By: TRICIA WANJALA

Rose Oyugi Soula, Kenyan-French chef who runs the Facebook page Chef Rose Mathieu

I moved to my husband’s native Paris in 2005. His mother, Nicole, is an exceptional home cook and made me fall in love with French cuisine. I applied to Ferrandi, the Harvard of French gastronomy. I have worked at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. I have also worked at Helène Darroze (restaurant) in Paris.

What would you be doing if you were not a chef?

I’d be a schoolteacher – which is why I love teaching cooking classes. I will be holding a class in Nairobi next month.

Which dignitary would you like to cook a meal for?

US President Barack Obama. I had the privileged to be part of a kitchen brigade that cooked for the Prince of Qatar with his family. I’ve also cooked for Eric Briffard, the executive chef of L’Epicure and French senators, just to mention a few.

What is the nicest compliment you ever got for your cooking?

I recently cooked duck breast for Michelin-star chef Christophe Moisand. He came to the kitchen asking for more and told me that the duck was perfectly cooked.

What do you love to eat at home?

Comfort food like shepherd pie, ugali with creamy spinach and beef stew, French onion soup during winter and in Kenya, I love to eat local biryani.

What are your hobbies?

Rollerblading.

What are your three favourite restaurants in the world?

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Paris, Restaurant du Palais Royal in Paris and Ranalo Foods (Kosewe) in Nairobi for authentic traditional food.Do you have any home cooking tips?

Don’t overcook your vegetables (to preserve nutrients). Unless the recipe calls for browning, don’t brown your onions, sweat them. Before you buy meat, ask your butcher which meat cut best suits your recipe.

Not all parts of the cow are good for stewing; choose the right cuts to avoid chewy tough meat. Moreover, never boil steak.

Grilled pork belly with vegetable-stuffed conchiglioni

Serves 6

Ingredients

Marinade

½ cup of water

1/3 cup soy sauce

¼ cup cooking oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Other ingredients

Pork belly

24 shells of conchiglioni pasta (large shell pasta)

Water

Salt

Cooking oil

3 courgettes

3 carrots

1 large red onion

Grated Parmesan cheese

Pumpkin

Water or chicken stock

Butter

Method

Pork belly

In deep bowl mix all marinade ingredients and marinate pieces of pork belly for at least two hours, then cook over medium-high heat on a greased grill.

After two minutes grilling on one side, rotate the pieces at 45 degrees for even cooking, do this for all four sides. Do not overgrill as the meat will become tough, turn over when juices pool on the upper surface and meat appears to be cooked halfway through.

Mixed vegetables

Cut courgettes, carrots and red onions into tiny cubes. Heat a pan with a teaspoon of oil and toss the vegetables until soft. Season with salt, pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Pasta

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta shells and cook until al dente. Drain well, making sure the shells are empty of water.

Drizzle the pasta with some cooking oil and toss. Stuff the pasta shells with the vegetables. Plate everything and serve immediately.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION