Be Proud of the Way You Cook: Interview with Chef Les
We sat down with Chef Les on our YouTube to talk about cooking your own culture. There’s so many diverse perspectives, so why not just own it?
Born and raised in the neighbourhood of Bahati in Nairobi, Kenya, Chef Les started building his culinary career in a small Italian eatery cooking classic Italian dishes. Since then, he has worked in luxury kitchens and expanded his knowledge of cuisines from all over the world. He made the deliberate decision to focus on Kenyan food because he believes the best food you can make is your own food — not something taught in a French cooking school or somewhere similar. He also wants Kenyan culture and cuisine to be uplifted to the same level as other cultures, and market the diversity of Kenyan food to the rest of the world!
Chef Les draws inspiration from the food he grew up eating in Kenya, and using his knowledge and expertise, he promotes the acknowledgment of diverse perspectives and the link between food and culture. In conversation with him for our video One-pot Chicken and Rice | Pilau, he speaks about the importance of owning your personal perspective of your culture’s food as a way of celebrating the heritage and diversity of every dish:
“As a country alone, it has 41 different cultures.
These are 41 different ways of exploring food, it’s 41 different ways of looking at how people present food,
and how different cultures use different kinds of foods and seasons to celebrate all sorts of ceremonies and just everyday life.
And so, you really have nothing to prove.
Yours is to put it out there, and the world is really ready.”
Since our video with Chef Les aired in 2020, 42 different cultures have now been recognized by the Kenyan government.
Does Chef Les’ motivation for cooking resonate with you? Watch his interview on our YouTube, and check out more of our videos on Cooking the Diaspora! Don’t forget to tag us in your food creations with #MyJikoni to join our growing community of home cooks.