There is a thin line between food and art for the home chef of this week, Tom Githinji.
Tom is a self-taught visual artist. He makes and sells jewellery, wall arts, and cards on social media.
As a cook and an artist he has to take an idea and not only have it make sense but make it beautiful to people.
Just like in art, his chef’s creative canvas knows no bounds.
“I am a visual artist and I also love to prepare something beautiful for myself once in a while,” he says as he makes butternut milk sauce.
Is food art, I ask. “Yes! Food is an art. From preparation, presentation to the taste.”
Tom also loves cooking because he is a foodie. He appreciates creating recipes and travelling to explore the local cuisine of different places.
“Also cooking is a form of exercise, which is also healthy to do rather than being idle. It’s a boredom killer too plus I get to learn something each time I cook. Something about fire control, the aroma of spices, and how much to put or what combination works for what meal,” he says.
Tom started cooking when he was in primary school. His aunt had assigned him, his two brothers and cousins duties in cooking and cleaning.
“We had many dogs that we used to cook for. I didn’t find much excitement in cooking. Then it was more of being told to cook but now I just find myself in the kitchen,” he says.
His earliest memory in the kitchen was preparing breakfast for the family. It was simple.
One recipe he learned from his aunt is deep frying sweet potatoes.
“There was this time I shared my roasted sweet potatoes and tea on a cooking competition on radio. I won a voucher and a gift hamper. I still prepare it,” he says.
Growing up at Vipingo in Kilifi, he had a fair share of “coastal style” food.
It comes as no surprise that his favourite dishes are Swahili, especially ones with coconut in them. His last meal could be pojo za nazi with rice.
He loves his pancakes flavourful. If he is aiming to impress, he prepares an omelette with tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, chilli pepper, and coriander.
His kitchen cabinet must have ginger, coriander, garlic, salt, turmeric, and pepper.
Tom advises home cooks to feel free to experiment with unfamiliar parts and don’t be nervous. “If it doesn’t work out, don’t be disappointed. Just try something else.”
He says every home cook needs simple, versatile dishes that they can turn to for everything from quick weeknight meals to unexpected dinner.
Frying githeri, making ugali and greens, rice and beans, pancakes and porridge are the dishes he says every man should know how to make and make them well.
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