ZANZIBAR GOURMET – THE CHEFS
Our close connection to great chefs on and off the island is what makes our Zanzibar Gourmet gastronomic experiences so special. Some of the chefs we work with, work here on the island, not just in the best hotels and restaurants, but some, we have sought out who work in small local restaurants or adhoc stalls. What connects them all is their commitment to creating great food with the wonderful array of ingredients available here on Zanzibar and their true sense of authenticity and connection to the stories of the island. From time to time, we also arrange for well known chefs to visit the island, and bring their expertise to the tastes and cuisine of Zanzibar.
See some of the chefs we collaborate with here:
Chef Alan of Melia’ Zanzibar
Alan is from Mauritius and has been on Zanzibar for 7 years and has been a chef for 14 years. Taste his tasting menus at Aqua, the fine dining venue of Melia’ Zanzibar where Chef Alan is the executive chef.
The cooking techniques they use aren’t particularly new and it’s not that there is something special. A lot of locals still cook on an open fire though, and when we do a Swahili buffet in the restaurant we do it with an open fire as well. We make the chapatti live on charchoal, mishkaki on the grill and we make the soup like the locals. Usually the guests enjoy the Swahili buffet more than any other dish. It shows the history of Zanzibar and they can really enjoy the local culture.
The menu here is all about the seasonality. What is available on the market, what is here now. The low season is actually the best season for a lots of products like pineapple and mango, but then there are almost no tourists on the island. While in August, when there are a lot of tourists around, a lot of products aren’t in season.
Chef Lucas Wollman
Chef Lucas is a German/Italian chef who was born in Kenya but grew up in Zimbabwe and now is the executive chef at Kilinidi Zanzibar after moving to the island in November 2016.
When I was 17 I realized that being a chef is what I wanted to do, My father is a chef as well and growing up I spent most of my life in and around the kitchens and being introduced to amazing cuisines, flavors and skills. As soon as I finished school I jumping straight in and have never looked back.
My work experience started in my parents restaurant called Victoria 22, Zimbabwe, then moved over the super yachts in the Mediterranean, came back to Cape town South Africa and worked at Ruebens kitchen in Franschoek and then finally moved to Zanzibar Kilindi.
My favourite Zanibari dishes include Beef mishkaki served with pumpkin futari, Ugali and chachandu sauce.
Chef Jussi of Zuri
Jussi is Swedish and started working in the kitchen at 14 years old. He’s been working all over the island since 1996. Chef Jussi has been joined the newest top 5 star location on the island: Zuri Zanzibar.
I’ve always worked with local products a lot, but in a 5 star hotel people expect a bit more, so we do have to import some products. We import cheeses, hams and salamis for example, so we can offer a variety. But whatever is available on the island we buy it and we use it.
I use a lot of fish and seafood, of course, and local fruit and vegetables. At the moment we use the local things like tamarind, hibiscus, baobab, and stafeli. They have very good nutritional value and it’s not like the common things they use in Europe. I also use a lot of fresh coconut.
I really like kachori, the small potato dumplings, and octopus in coconut is also always a nice one, with some pilau rice…
Chef Edina of Emerson on Spice
Edina is Tanzanian, originally from the mainland but has been on the island for 16 years. She’s been a chef in Emerson on Spice for 4 years.
For me the most significant thing is the fresh seafood. The fish here is so fresh, it comes straight from the fishermen.
In the Zanzibari cuisine we prefer to cook a lot with coconut. There are some big differences between the Zanzibari cuisine and the cuisine from the mainland. In the mainland they use a lot of oil, not that many spices and not that much seafood. Meat is used more often.
I really like cassava with coconut sauce. Like I said, coconut is a traditional ingredient, I really like it. My specialty dish in the restaurant, is probably prawns and lobster. Swahili style, we serve Swahili dishes only, but the guests always like what I cook.
Chef Fadhiw of Emerson on Hurumzi
Fadhiw is Zanzibarian and has been a chef for 15 years. He has always loved to cook and knew that he was going to be a chef from very young age.
The Zanzibar cuisine is very nice, but you have to know how to use spices. You have to know how much spice to use and which kind of spice. You’ll know the real Zanzibar when you have some good food from someone who knows how to use spices.
Spices usually have a symbolic meaning; cinnamon for example stands for peace and cumin for love.
I like biryani, pilau, and dishes with banana. I also like Ugali, a specialty from Dar.
Vumilie (seen here also in the photo): I really like octopus in coconut sauce. I love it because in this dish we only use coconut, not oil.
Chef Shafeek Peerboccus
Mauritian chef Shafeek Peerboccus is Executive Chef at Double Tree Hilton Stonetown after moving to the island in September 2011.
I realised I wanted to be a chef after I found myself trying the dishes I would see on cooking programmes, and to date I’ve had over 10 years professional experience in the kitchen!
My favourite Zanzibari ingredients include Cumin, Coriander, Cardamom, Cinnamon and Cloves and one of my favourite dishes is Zanzibar pizza!
Chef Bouya Jean Pascal Diedhiou
Senegalese chef Jean Pascal Diedhiou is the executive chef at Melia Zanzibar.
When I was around 12 years old I knew I wanted to be a chef. After 10 years professional experience in West Africa and another 5 years experience in North african cuisine, I moved to Zanzibar in 2010. My current favourite Zanzibari dishes include Pweza na Nazi (Octopus in a coconut sauce) and my favourite foodie activity on the island is fishing in Nungwi.
Chef Ali Cherati of Park Hyatt Zanzibar
Chef Ali is the executive chef at Park Hyatt Zanzibar
I never actually set out to be a chef as my father is a great chef and I knew how difficult is to be chef and manage family life; his busy schedule at work meant it was hard to spend time with him.
So I can say that cooking passion at first was in my blood then become a choice. 🙂
But when I was helping my mother in her kitchen at home, I realized that I had a lot of knowledge about produce without even trying to learn. That’s when you know you have a real passion, when you are absorbing information and applying it productively without even noticing.
I first worked as a waiter at age 18 for one year, I fell in love with the energy of the professional kitchen,the bonding, and commitment. The dedication to pushing yourself to the limits, all of these made me realize I didn’t just want to commit myself to my relationship with food, but I absolutely needed to!
Then once I had my first shift on the line, it confirmed that I made the right choice.
My favourite Zanzibari ingredients include spices, herbs and fruits (cinnamon, as well as all the organic herbs and fruits) and my favourite dish is Urojo (also known as Zanzibar mix).
Chef Jakub Janda
Experienced executive chef Jakub Janda, together with his team, prepares gourmet experiences, including degustation dinner menus at exclusive hotel Tulia Zanzibar.
Cooking is my passion in life! Born into a family of chefs, I grew up as a 4th generation of chefs and cooking is a family tradition and passion. I have experience from the best restaurants in Czech Republic and also from many international projects: Flambée, Le Terroir, Náprstek, Chateau St. Havel.