Chef Osenduru Bosco is the man at the helm of the kitchen at Carnival restaurant and Capitol palace hotel . With 16 years in cooking; his is a story of patience and a love of roasting.
As a child, I used to help my parents cook. I am a man but I could cook. I used to cook local food; kaalo, beans, meat. Things like sweet potatoes and matooke; those are like snacks in Nebbi where i’m from. I joined YMCA where I did a 2 year culinary course.
My first job was at Shanghai hotel, a friend recommended me. I started as a cleaner and I did that for 2 years. I was very active in the kitchen and when my employers saw that they decided to teach me how to cook.
Chinese cooking is very organized. If you are to chop vegetables, you do that for some time. If you are chopping meats, you do that. You graduate slowly by slowly. I did not learn how to make Chinese food in class, I learnt this at the restaurant. After 4 years at Shanghai, that was in 2006, a friend called me about an opportunity at Capitol palace.
No it was another friend. I am social and cooperative and I’m easy to work with so people always call me.
You have to be firm to work with the Chinese. It’s not easy, but I like that hard treatment because it gives you a strong heart and helps you concentrate.
Carnival is all about meats, we only do barbecue. What we do is marinate and roast. Buffalo, crocodile, antelope, warthog and of course chicken, beef and the ones you are used to.
We treat buffalo like beef, its tough meat so we tenderize. As for crocodile, we grade it under white meat. It’s naturally soft on the inside. When you look at a crocodile live, it looks funny but the meat is soft. To sell game meat, you need to have a license and I think we are one of the few places that does this type of meat.
Antelope is red meat but its texture isn’t tough…it’s softer than goat. Warthog is soft. They are tough animals but their meat is soft.
In school, the love of what you are learning has to come from your heart. But someone who learns 100% from school is not better than someone who learns on the job. Here, you learn by doing, and doing daily. Today you find that this has not come out, tomorrow you come and say let me do it differently.
On hiring people
I’m a small man but I am the head here. I love someone who comes and says I don’t know things. I can then start teaching them from zero. When this happens I know that person is going to turn out fine in time.
If you want your food to taste the way it tastes (to have its flavours), don’t over spice and use only fresh spices; the ones we grow here in Uganda. Garlic, lemon grass etc. We get them from the market. Sometimes imported spices are old, and they might even spoil the taste of what you are cooking. We prefer to make ours fresh so that you can enjoy the taste of what you are eating. That’s what we do at carnival.
We use pineapple. It doesn’t change the taste. It just makes the meal taste wow. Squeeze the juice and leave for like 2 hours. Ripe or not, any pineapple will do.
First dish I learnt to cook-after kaalo, that was chillied beef
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your work?
Learn to accept your mistakes. That also goes with making an apology
Most annoying thing you face in the kitchen.
You know people have different characters…but really someone who acts like they haven’t heard you when you tell them something. They hear you, then they pretend. This also pisses you off.
Do you want your children to be chefs?
No, I don’t want them to be. This thing, we love it, but it also has some bad sides. I don’t want them to be around fire and the flames. But the good thing about this job and about being in the kitchen is that as a chef, you have no expiry date. Even if you get old…it’s up to you to put your hands up and say, ‘OK now, it’s my time!’
On food that is bad for you
That depends on you; some people are allergic, don’t force your body to eat things that it doesn’t want…
When I’m cooking I wash my rice. In this process I remove some of the starch. With all of it there, it may not be good for some.
Some food isn’t bad, but the way you prepare it makes bad. For instance when it comes to oil, adding oil to something that is already fatty makes it bad. That is why roasting is perfect. In that process of roasting, fat is reduced
The good thing about cooking is that your eye gets satisfied before you eat. These senses on your face work with food. You first start with the eye, the eye observes the food; the nice colour, the nose takes in the smell…then the mouth opens to eat.
The biggest number you have cooked for at a go?
We cooked for 300 people in one day. It was an end of year party,
Did you sleep the day before?
I slept but my mind was awake
Do all chefs always get a day off?
I don’t know if other people don’t do this for their employees, but in the hotel industry a day off every week is a must. This is very important because it gives your mind time to relax and also gives you time to learn new things. In the process of visiting and talking to friends, you learn a lot.
Why a cooking course at YMCA?
I chose cooking because I love it. Anything that you do without love, it will not work for you. I didn’t think I would be where I am today, I thought I would stop cooking but fortunately I’m still doing it. Till this day, I love and enjoy cooking.
I enjoy barbecuing and roasting. Even though you pick me and drop me somewhere new, just give me meat, I’ll look for a way of roasting it. I love fish, even if its stew, frying or charcoal roasting. It takes a while but I’ll roast fish and you will not want to eat fried fish again.