FEATURED: Kigali Marriott Hotel's chef talks about culinary competition and experience at the hotel

Jean-Baptiste Bizimana is a junior sous chef at the Kigali Marriott Hotel. He recently participated in the fifth edition of the Gorilla Highlands Silver Chef Competition that was held in Musanze and was the third. He caught up with The New Time’s James Peter Nkurunziza and talked about what it means working for the hotel as well as his experience from the competition. 

Briefly tell me about yourself and what you are in charge of here at the Kigali Marriott Hotel...

My name is Jean-Baptiste Bizimana and I am a junior sous chef and I have been working as a chef close to 10 years. I began my career at Karisimbi Hotel in Kiyovu then joined Kigali Serena Hotel before finally joining the Kigali Marriott Hotel in March 2017.

What motivated you to become a chef?

I was still in school and my first time to go to a hotel was at Hotel Mille Colline and we had a nice meal and when the chef passed by to ask us how the food was, I admired his Chef clothes, the white gown and the chef’s hat and I told myself that one day I will be a chef. It was after that that I joined the culinary school where I studied for three years then I joined Karisimbi Hotel. 

What was the reaction of your parents when you decided that you were becoming a chef or when you decided to join the culinary arts?

It wasn’t easy and I faced a lot of hardships as they were asking themselves why I had chosen to join the culinary arts. They kept discouraging me saying that it is something women do not men. Some even went as far as giving me examples of people in our village including women who could cook tasty food without having gone to school for training. I chose to listen to my heart and proved to them that I wasn’t wasting my time.

What has been your experience working at the Kigali Marriott Hotel?

It has been one of those life-changing moments for me as it is not only a job as it feels more like home where we get to enjoy what we do yet we also get paid for it. There are a lot of privileges that one can not find at other hotels including the kind of treatment we get as employees.

Similarly, we get to interact with different people from different walks of life as the hotel has a variety of international employees who bring about a diverse culture here at work.

You participated in the recently held Gorilla Highlands Silver chef Competition, please tell me about it and what you gained from it. 

I was the third in the competition and it is such a big milestone in my life. The competition actually helped me learn a lot from other chefs around the region as there were many from different participants of the region. It taught me how to diversify my experience in areas such as presentations of meals, timekeeping among others. 

What role did the Kigali Marriott Hotel play in helping you be ready for the competition?

I am really grateful to the Kigali Marriott Hotel for the big role played in seeing that I am ready for the competition. Choosing me among other talented chefs to represent the hotel was a great opportunity for me and giving me a platform for all the preparations and menu practices all done from the hotel. My colleagues and superiors also made time to practice with me, as well as give me feedback on what I can do better. I couldn’t have asked for a better support system than what I got.

What has your time at the Kigali Marriott Hotel helped in shaping your future and dreams?

First of all, it has given me the platform to work with a lot of experienced chefs from Italy, Mexico among others and it has also given me a chance to prove myself to the world that I am really good at what I do. Kigali Marriott Hotel being part of an international brand also opens doors to the kind of training I am exposed leading to bigger and better opportunities.

In future, I would also like the chance to inspire young Chefs in Rwanda or those doubtful to join the industry, that this is a great career move as is all the corporate careers.  This all fits in my plans perfectly.

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