Don’t we all enjoy good food? A good plate of something that would just leave us wanting more? Well, in order for that to be possible, we need a chef who is dedicated to putting the best plate on the table. A chef who experiments with different recipes to come up with food that would satisfy a host besides preparing food that people eat to survive. Although we have many great chefs, it is rare to find young male chefs in our country. Redwan Mohhamed Sifaf, is a youngster who made his way to become one of the great cooks for different occasions in town. After graduating from Halhale College of Business and Economics with a diploma in Tourism and Hotel management, He worked in different places until he decided to make profit out of his occupation working as a wedding cook as well as various events where he became famous for his cooking and management . Redwan is here with us to talk about the different cuisines he prepares and when he began dreaming about becoming one of the few young male chefs in the country.
- How did you become a chef, Redwan?
Growing up, we didn’t have an older sister to do the house chores as most Eritrean families do. Both my parents were working at the time, so my mother barely had the time to clean and cook. Also, my family are liberal, which is why they used to tell us all to do all the house chores by ourselves. We grew up doing all the chores a girl would do, starting from cleaning the house to cooking and taking care of the kids. We were raised believing that we should be confident in everything that we do. I am grateful that we had that kind of opportunity, really. If it wasn’t for my family’s support in everything that I did, I doubt that I would be here today.
In my opinion, our society thinks that you are girlish if you help out in the kitchen. They believe that the house chores are for girls, which I think is totally wrong. A girl can be anything she wants to be besides cleaning the house, and a guy should help out in the h o u s e and get the house keeping experience.
So I got all the important basics to become a chef at home. Nonetheless, I had to be certified to turn my hobby to profession and that is when I went to Freweini Cooking School and got my certificate in catering. By the way, I would like to pass on my gratitude to teacher Freweini Gebrehiwet for her hospitality and for encouraging young male cooks to join the field.
- To reinforce your career you have also gone to college?
I have a principle, hobby isn’t enough, and when one turned to a profession one should know and research about it. I wanted to make money out of something I think I do well, but I knew I can do better if I know more about it. That is why I sat for a second matriculation exam while I was doing my national service. Fortunately, I had the results to be assigned to the department of my first choice, Tourism and Hotel Management in Halhale College of Business. It was challenging at first but my catering certification helped a lot for me to join the department. It was an experience that uplifted my motivation to pursue my dream even more. As a matter of fact, my teachers tell me that I might be the only one who is practically working in the fieled from our batch.
- How challenging was it to go cook for customers the first time?
It wasn’t that scary for me as a first timer. However, it was a bit challenging to cook for more than hundred guests, but that is when education comes in handy as I only had to multiply the quantity of the ingredients needed to feed the big number of people. I rented a place in the festivals and used to work, competing with the biggest restaurants. It only takes confidence to start something. I didn’t have many regulars for me to dine in my place but I still worked.
Cooking was all I knew, I didn’t have other careers that I would rather work in. I had the love for it. I have been cooking since I was just a young kid. It all started out to help my mother but now it is the very thing I want to do for the rest of my life. That is why I spend most of my time reading and researching on various ingredients and cuisines of different countries.
I cooked for my graduation ceremony and also my brother’s wedding ceremony. That when people started hiring me to cook for different occasions. I started from the bottom and now I am able to have my own staff and materials. Now, I can host more than two to three weddings at the same time.
- The cuisines you prepare?
It depends on what the clients order for their events. However, as someone who is in the profession I get to advise them on what can be better. The dishes that are prepared at weddings are almost limited, especially if the wedding is a traditional one. I wish that people would experiment with the different healthy cuisines from around the world. As a chef, I am constantly reading books written by great chefs of other nationalities and experimenting to introduce dishes that people would find tasty and healthy. People shouldn’t eat just because the food is tasty, they should think about the health benefits as well.
Cooking is an art, it’s all about adding and mixing ingredients. We can come up with good food which is equally tasty and healthy if we are dedicated to making the best dish.
- Do you have any advice to your fellow youngsters?
Yes. Cooking is for all. Also, to my fellow sisters, you can get paid doing what you do in the house. Housekeeping is a great profession that requires a skill. You just have to manage how to turn it to a profession. Also, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed in any way for me to get here. For every one who has shared their experience and given me moral and support. My parents are my base to be in this field in the first place, but most of all my grandmother Halima Haji Suleman, she has been the greatest support for me throughout my life. I want to pass on a heartfelt gratitude to all of them. Thank you for having me on your page.