Black Apron Chefs serving the who's who in Kenya – Business Daily
Pischler Munyasia Wafula (left) and Kiai Mwaniki, the founders of Black Apron Chefs. PHOTO | POOL
The Black Apron Chefs came together in 2020, serving people food as they comfortably cocooned in their homes during the pandemic.
A fortnight ago, the BDLife encountered the creative duo at an exclusive viewing party of their documentary at the Monk Restaurant on Nairobi’s Kandara Road. It is part of the series that aired on Maisha Magic East that uncovers the journey to success of creatives in music, fashion, food, and visual arts.
Pischler Munyasia Wafula and Kiai Mwaniki, the founders of Black Apron Chefs, were showcasing their cooking skills to select guests.
The Monk’s menu is the creation of Black Apron Chefs who manage the kitchen. As I tucked into the German sausage and fish fingers imaginatively presented, a broad-shouldered Mr Munyasia joined me to detail how his cooking passion landed them on the silver screen.
He has dropped the black apron and skullcap for this sitting and is instead spotting blue jeans, a maroon sweater, and a silver chain accessory. That he was young, I could tell, but could quite place his age so I asked.
“26”, he said while adding that his business partner Mr Mwaniki is two years younger.
The two started their cooking career at Radisson Blu Hotel as commis chefs. It is also here that they met and struck a friendship. Before a business partnership could be forged, however, fate would grow them on different paths.
Mr Mwaniki studied at Top Chef Culinary Institute. He picked up his passion for cooking from his mother.
Mr Munyasia did hotel and restaurant management at United States International University Africa, and had stints in the United Arab Emirates, working in a cottage establishment in Sharjah City, before landing a spot at the more prominent Towers Rotana hotel in Dubai.
While he was content with his experience in the Gulf, he was certainly not thrilled about starting his journey as a commis-level chef in Kenya. It did not help that progression to senior duties took even longer.
The wait, however, inadvertently educated this protégé descended from cooking royalty, with his father having worked at State House, on the significance of humility and patience.
Lady luck eventually smiled his way, when he competed in the 2020 Emirates Culinaire Expo and emerged first runners-up in the young chefs’ category. Then, without warning, the global hospitality industry hurtled to a halt.
Few can proclaim the pandemic to be a blessing in disguise, but these two seized an opportunity to create a brand beyond their names. As they deliberated on the concept, they were called to cater a two-day chama weekend meeting at Naivasha’s Oloiden campsite, serving 70 people.
With the lessons learned, a professional outfit was realised. In no time, the new entrants operating under the Black Apron Chefs, had refined their home catering services, and added skilled hands to the crew, serving the who’s who in Kenya.
In December 2020, they hosted a food festival, the Soulfood Food Extravaganza held in Bethsaida Park in Kikuyu, that incorporated food, art, and music. They went on to bag their first kitchen management client that was Winelife Shop and Restaurant in Gigiri from where the Monk’s proprietor Maryanne Mumbi.
To top it all off, beermaker Guinness through their Hop House brand came calling. It is now their second quarter as the brand’s influencers, tasked with infusing the alcoholic beverage in their menu and conducting food pairings.
Black Apron Chefs hopes to onboard more chefs. They currently boast seven skilled chefs under the banner who have embraced Kenya’s indigenous cuisine and ingredients in entirely new ways.