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Vitiligo didn’t stop me

When Chef Margaret Wagio started her hospitality career at Panari Sky Hotel in 2011 as a trainee, she had high hopes of becoming successful. After working there for a while as a trainee chef, she had mastered the tricks of becoming a great chef.

With her experience, she secured employment at Bamburi Beach Hotel as a cook and later, Nyali International Hotel. All that while, no one at work knew that Margaret had vitiligo, as the patches were not in obvious parts of her body. But, this didn’t last for long, as more patches started to appear on other more exposed parts of her body.

Because of this, she lost her job at Nyali International and went back home. It wasn’t easy at all for her, and she stayed for four years without a job. She then got some casual jobs, and decided to venture into outside catering and home calls. This is how I bumped into her.

On this particular day, she had come to my friend’s house to prepare her favourite meal; steak with peppercorn sauce, roast garlic wedge potatoes and broccoli and carrot with stir up vegetables. When I tasted the food, I had to look for her to at least learn some cooking tricks.

Chef Maggie, as she is popularly known, was kind enough to let me in on the steps to making the delicacy. This delicious and nutritious meal may appear complicated, but trust me, it is easy to prepare.

As we get busy with pots and pans, Maggie shares with me more about her journey. She started her cooking career when she was young. You couldn’t miss her in the kitchen anytime her father, who was a great cook, was preparing something.

However, since getting into it professionally, her experience, especially with her condition, has not been easy, with some people refusing to take her food. She remembers vividly a day she was called by one of her customers to prepare fish. After serving the dish, some of her client’s friends refused to partake when they saw her. She considers this her worst moment in the industry.

As we were winding up with the process, which took around 45 minutes, Maggie taught me something important. She told me I should always prepare my ingredients before I start cooking, because this saves energy and time, and also helps one use each ingredient at the required step.

ROAST GARLIC POTATO WEDGES

Ingredients

Ø 4 large potatoes peeled

Ø 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Ø 2 tablespoons of ground black pepper

Ø 1 tablespoon of salt

Ø 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Ø 1 clove of garlic

Ø 2 tablespoons of butter

Method

Heat oven to 250°C and cut the potatoes into wedges.

Toss the wedges with salt, olive oil and black pepper and put them on a baking sheet in a single layer.

Cut off the tiny top part of the garlic and place it on a piece of foil. Drizzle a little oil on top and rub all over then cover it up and put it on the same baking sheet as the potatoes.

Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Mash the garlic, which is now soft and brownish, into a paste.

Melt butter in a saucepan, add the mashed garlic and stir. Add parsley and stir.

Spoon the garlic sauce over the potatoes and toss to coat evenly.

BROCCOLLI AND CARROT WITH STIR UP VEGETABLES

Ingredients

Ø 1 carrot

Ø Half a piece of broccoli

Ø 1 tomato

Ø Half piece of green capsicum

Ø Half piece of yellow capsicum

Ø 1 white onion

Ø 1 piece of spring onion

Ø 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Ø One cup of water

Ø Pinch of ground black pepper

Method

Wash all the vegetables and cut them into julienne except the broccoli, then set aside.

In a medium size sufuria, add a cup of water and bring to boil. Add salt, carrots and one tablespoon of olive oil.

Cover for three minutes then add broccoli and give it another 3-4 minutes.

Once ready, strain and set aside for frying.

In a saucepan, add the remaining olive oil, tomato, green and yellow capsicum and white and spring onion. Add a pinch of black pepper and then add the broccoli and carrots and toss it up.

Cover and give it three minutes or until done. Make sure the broccoli doesn’t mash.

STEAK WITH PEPPERCORN SAUCE

Ingredients

Ø Lean steak

Ø 2 tablespoons of black pepper whole corn crushed

Ø 2 tablespoons of ground black pepper

Ø 1 tablespoon of salt

Ø 40g butter

Ø 2 pieces of shallot

Ø 50ml milk

Ø 100ml double cream

Ø 2 cloves of garlic

Ø 2 tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Chop the shallot and garlic cloves and set aside.

Heat the pan and add some olive oil then season the steak with salt and pepper on both sides and put on the pan.

Cook for three minutes each side until it is rare done. Set it aside.

In the same pan, add the shallot, garlic cloves and butter and let it cook until golden brown.

Add the steak and let it cook for two minutes then add double cream and whole black peppercorn.

Let it cook for a few minutes then add milk. To know if ready, the sauce should hold at the back of the spoon.

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