Chef Charles Kyomuhendo from Volcanoes Safaris National Park scooped the silverhat in a competitive cook-off against some of the region’s top young chefs.
This was during the fifth edition of the Gorilla Highlands Silverchef Competition that was held at the Five Volcanoes Boutique Hotel in Musanze.
Chef Kyomuhendo was also awarded a trip to any destination of Rwandair and a tour trip around the gorilla highlands of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo, after outshining nine other chefs from Rwanda and Uganda.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity from the sponsors to showcase my cooking skills, to travel and for the other competitors that I’ve learned from,” the excited Kyomuhendo said.
All the other chefs were recognised with certificates of participation and quality cooking.
This year, Rwanda, the host country was represented by four chefs and five from Uganda. DR Congo was not represented.
The event attracted a number of tourism, conservation, media and development professionals from the three countries. Also in attendance Chef Dieuveil Malonga from DR Congo and founder of ‘Chefsinafrica.’
During the competition, chefs were presented with a basket of secret ingredients for the competitors to decide for themselves what they use for starter or main course. The morning shift was presented with Crayfish pealed, Beef Fillet, Bok Choy / Sombe, Cherry tomatoes, Avocado / Zucchini and Baby Fennel, while the afternoon shift was given Trimmed Tilapia, Duck Breast, Belgian, Andive, Trio of lettuce tied, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Some of the chefs however lost due to their failure to use all the secret ingredients provided, part of the rules of the competition.
Different from last year’s edition where chefs prepared their meals in an enclosed kitchen, the competition was held in an open space and presented to the audience and a panel of five judges from different professional fields who awarded marks for taste, presentation, originality and kitchen technique.
The judges were: model and humanitarian Judith Heard from Uganda, Rwandan radio personality and events host Sandrine Isheja, Andrea Miller, USA, teacher and co-founder of Virunga Valley Academy in Musanze owner of Crema Cafe, Chef Claude Bigayimpuzi, a chef consultant based in Kigali, Pablo, owner of Birdnest Resort in Kabale and the head judge.
In between shifts, a junior competition where children showcased their culinary skills and were judged on their presentation and taste from the junior judges.
The annual cooking competition is an opportunity for chefs to network and gets exposure as well as learn from each other.
About Gorilla Highlands Silverchef Competition
The Gorilla Highlands initiative is a project that aims to globally brand and promote the trans-boundary region shared by Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.
This is the second time the competition is being hosted in Rwanda. Chef Ramadhan Sindayigaya from Kigali Marriott Hotel was the winner of last year’s competition that was held in Kigali.
“Instead of a short stop-over to see mountain gorillas, we want to position it as a region that has a lot to offer and should be a destination by itself,” explained Isabelle Masozera, one of the organisers.
“Gorilla Highlands uses innovative solutions to tell the world a positive story about this part of Africa and bring about economic development specifically targeting the poor,” she added.
The Gorilla Highlands Silverchef competition was launched in 2011 to promote culinary excellence in the South West of Uganda.
Rwanda was brought on board three years ago when the geographical ‘reach’ of the Gorilla Highlands was expanded in a bid to promote the idea of having young chefs from resorts, safari lodges and hotels come together, start a network, test their skills and create a fellowship of young professionals.
To the chefs, the competition also gives them an opportunity to network, exposure, new knowledge and platforms to boost their careers.