FEATURED: From dishwasher to top chef at Radisson Blu Hotel & Kigali Convention Centre

Chef Jose Minuti during the interview at Filini Italian Restaurant. / Photos by Dan Nsengiyumva.

Jose Minuti has just turned 43 years old.

Twenty-three years ago he made a decision that enabled him to establish himself in one of the most sought-after careers in the hospitality industry.

Born in Italy, Minuti has been in culinary art business for over 20 years.

He has attended schools like Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Professional pizza school and Fratelli Calvi.  

Today, Minuti is the Executive Sous-chef at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Kigali Convention Centre. He is in charge of the Kigali Convention Centre Kitchen, and is team leader at the Filini Italian Restaurant.

The New Times had a chat with him, to tell us more about his life, and what the hotel has on offer for this year’s Valentine’s Day.  

How did you start to develop the passion for cooking?

It developed when I was around 20 years old. I was studying in college to be an electrician. When I graduated, I went to London to study English, and, initially, the plan was to spend three months there.

Fresh from school and with no experience, I found a part-time job in a restaurant kitchen as a steward (washing dishes). And that’s where the rest of my career started.

When summer was over, they asked me to stay and was made the in-charge of preparing starters /salad, which was my first promotion. I called my family to tell them I got a job and I will be staying. That’s when I really started to develop more interest in the profession.

Filini Italian Restaurant.

From there, I took culinary courses, went to study pastry in France, and I acquired certificates from Italy.

Were you cooking before going to London?

No! It was my mother who always cooked. Sometimes I think I got my passion for cooking from my mother. She used to work in restaurants.

I wanted to become a football player when I was younger. But I had to respect my parent’s decision and I ended up studying something completely different in University.

Do you have signature dish?

I have many. I specialise in Italian food; including fresh Pasta, Pizza, Risotto, and more. I am keen on making sure I maintain the traditional Italian flavour with contemporary presentation

What are some of your responsibilities as an Executive Sous-Chef?

I have a number of responsibilities – from planning and menu engineering to managing the kitchen team, and mentoring and teaching chefs.

As an Executive Sous-Chef, although not on everyday basis, I still cook but the main responsibility is along with the Executive Chef of the Complex, to manage the team, relationship with suppliers and ensuring that events and the restaurants at the convention centre are well planned for.

It is quite a demanding role, as it requires one to work for long hours and to stay self-motivated. It is difficult to progress in this career, if you don’t have the passion and are constantly on the look-out to perfect your craft.

Do you think we have enough local chefs?

Not enough, but much better than back when we started out, almost four years ago. I see more and more people choosing this career path. You know Rwanda is still new in this business, but I see many new restaurants and hotels coming up, even new culinary schools.

We have an internship programme where students from culinary schools come to train for three months, not only in the kitchen, but in all the departments.

I am confident that in the near future, we will have more Rwandan chefs leading the kitchen teams in hotels and restaurants. We already have good local chefs working at the hotel and convention centre.

What is a good day for you? And what don’t you like to see during work?

When we have two-three thousand people is a good day for me. It means we are busy. Which requires us to plan for buffet setups and timings according to the number of delegates and programme of the day and in different locations; Piazza, Larder, KCC …

We always say ‘you cook, then clean, immediately.’ The kitchen needs to be kept clean and tidy at all times.

Do you have a unique Valentine’s dining experience?

Yes, we do! We will have a five-course menu at Filini Italian Restaurant; starter soup, sorbet to refresh your mouth, then we have the main course where you choose between beef or chicken, and a dessert, at Rwf40,000 per person, including a glass of Prosecco.

We will also have live-music performance, if maybe a couple wants to have a marriage proposal, this is the ideal place.  

We also have an extensive buffet spread at Larder restaurant for Rwf30,000 per person.

Do you have any new projects at Filini?

We have new menus coming. We are doing trainings of the menu’s dishes, which we will launch next month. 


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