Who inspired you to be a chef?
My grandfather who loved to cook his own food. I was nine years old when I prepared my first dish. I hardly remember what it was that I cooked, but I used to experiment cooking a lot of dishes at that age. I rely on talent as opposed to what I learnt in school.
What is your cooking style and what inspires it?
My cooking style is African fusion, inspired by Swahili culture.
Do you experience stereotypes as a chef since cooking has always been a woman’s job?
I always look at the brighter side, the bigger picture! All major chefs in the world are men.
What do you do to stay educated about new trends?
I always keep myself updated online on matters food and culinary standards from other chefs. This way, I cannot only experiment on the new recipes, but also implement them.
Does your wife love to cook too?
We both love to cook, but in most instances, we do it together. I have two lovely daughters and they might also become chefs! Since most of the time I am in a kitchen, the children play with the safe kitchen utensils all the time.
How did you turn your profession into a brand and eventually on TV?
It was lots of hard work and most of all, God’s grace. And I have won various awards notably the International Hall of Fame award from the United Sates of America.
Which cuisine is your favourite?
I love all sorts of cuisines as long as it’s Halal, or food, which adheres to Islamic law as, defined in the Holy Koran.
Which gadget can’t you do without and what’s your signature dish?
As a chef, I can’t do without knives, of course. But it’s hard to say what is as my signature dish as I have many.
You keep fit despite having yummy food around you. What are your hobbies apart from cooking?
I jog most mornings, work out a bit in the afternoon and I have light meals in the evening. I also love travelling, drawing, painting and carving.
Chef Ali, five years from now…?
Inshallah (God willing), five years from now I will be representing my country Kenya globally in the highest culinary platforms.
What advice would you give to beginner chefs? Follow your heart when it comes to cooking, work hard and always do what you do with passion. It’s everything.