BILHA'S FOOD, CULTURE AND STORY
My name is Bilha, mother of 2 and grandmother of 1.5yr old. I was born and raised in Kenya in the Muranga, central region. In a typical rural place in Kenya, there are things that are hard to come by like water, one of the things I dreaded was to fetch water. This was after school from a stream that was 3 kilometers away but had to do it. I was not alone, so did every other child in my neighborhood. One of the things I was told was that, if I did not want that kind of work, I had to work hard in school, and look for greener pastures. This was meant to help ourselves and also our parents. I schooled with Gusto.
Another part of my growing up was that, I saw my Dad cook for us some exotic and traditional cuisines. He worked at one of the prestigious hotels in Nairobi – Kenya. This made me admire cooking and hence promised myself to follow in his footsteps one day. I say “cooking runs in my family”, my sister and her daughter are chefs. With my profession as a Communication strategist, I find cooking a great way of connecting with others and a great way of expressing self.
MOVING TO NETHERLANDS
Later in 2016, I got an opportunity to pursue my M.Sc studies in The Netherlands, finished, and started a catering company, the Zaki2keuken in June 2019. This has always been a hobby and a passion, hence decided to put it into economic use. I use cooking as a way of unwinding and reflection. In October 2014, I got separated from my then husband of 23 years. I was devastated, 5 months down the line I got a divorce. I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning and wonder what to do. I needed something else apart from my job to distract myself. My children were already away in school hence didn’t know how to fill in the time. I had only 2 choices, either to wallow in my pain or dust myself up and grab what I am good at, cooking. This had been put on the back burner as work and houses hustles took the best part of me. I had to put my passion into use, I would cook for weddings and groups on the weekends. This continued and it paid dividends. Then I came to Netherlands to pursue my studies. After completion, I took what is called search year. I searched for a job in my field without any luck. Without European work experience it was not easy (not impossible). I needed an income. That is how Zakwe2keuken birthed. I again decided to be serious with my cooking. It has been 2 years and I cannot look back. I offer corporate, group workshops and all catering services. I also collaborate with my fellow chefs in Kenyans and offer online classes.
OUR FOOD, OUR CULTURE, OUR STORY
I use Zakwe2keuken as a means to network, connect and for companies and groups to build their teams. It has been a great and meaningful experience. I love to hear our clients engage in animated chats and laughter during our events. Since I promote ethnic food and culture, our events always end with a dance, to the joy of our clients. I am committed to give an all-around experience for our clients that linger long after the event is over.
Our cooking workshops and services are based all over Netherlands. I only require a cooking studio and I am good to go. I have been in cities in The Netherlands like Apeldoorn, Groningen, Helmond, Bennekom and counting. I am also looking at Germany, where plans are under way to work with likeminded Kenyans living in Europe. The reception I get from both the Dutch and the internationals is amazing. I do not see the sky as a limit, I strive to transcend higher each day. I foresee a great potential and value addition to the country and to women who are very enthusiastic about our events.
Since Kenya has diverse ethnic group (44 tribes), I have embraced the different cuisines that comes with it. It is a mixture of tasty, authentic Kenyan culinary. Most Kenyans learn how to cook from their mothers and grandmothers. This is passed informally, which is what Zakwe2keuken has done but blended in the formal as well. I desire is to see the future generation having our mother’s kind of kitchen delicacies away home. During our cooking, we also tell our story, our culture, what to expect when one visits Kenya, why and when certain foods are eaten. I share stories about the big fives, our gardens where most of our foods are directly sourced from. By so doing I hope to share diversity of the human race. We tell our many stories through food, our stories, make us who we are, we have many stories and not just one. I agree with the narrative that, “If you want to disposes a person, tell a definitive story of that person rather than many stories that make a person or a race” Chimamanda Adichie, (2013).
I have dubbed my cooking workshops as “The Kenyan cooking safari workshop” I have been approached by other internationals of Netherlands to incorporate their cuisine. Currently I am having an Italian Chef who I believe will add value to us. This goes hand in hand with our name, Zaki2keuken, which means cooking our traditional food.
ZAKWE2KEUKEN AND TIME OF COVID-19
At this time when everything has been affected by Covid-19, I have come up ways of keeping hope alive. I have been very active on Facebook where I do live cooking shows. I also offer online cooking classes. My joy is complete when I receive testimonials of people who have been motivated to keep hope alive through my cooking. The joy of people writing to us and telling us how the cooking has helped them keep hope alive, is priceless.
I also envisage the young upcoming Chefs joining us during our cooking classes and learn a lesson or two. Our desire is to mentor others and see ethnic food passed to future generations. Our tag line speaks for us we cook to “the nines” Cooking is dynamic and at the same time stays the same hence no dull moment in the kitchen.
When I eat out, I learn different ways of cooking food and at the same time I look for ways of improvement. I do a lot of research on food and nutrition, how to combine different recipes and diverse foods. All this is geared to keep Zakwe2keuken abreast with current trend and markets.
My desire is to see women excel in the food industry and to see them pass down their skills to the future generations. I also envision tasty meals being made in their homes, that is my greatest desire.
Companies Cooking workshops:
These ones are exclusive, and are only meant for individual companies that put their request. I take your team on a “Kenyan cooking safari” you cook with us, eat and end with an African dance. The most revitalize event that you can have.
Group workshops/Cook outs:
These ones are open to likeminded people to join, you join others you have never met before or come with your friends and join others to do for a “Kenyan cooking workshop. You cook with us, eat and end with an African dance.
We cook for your event, parties of all kind and weddings. We cook and clean up as you entertain your guests.
Saturday evening special:
Online cooking classes, you choose from our menu, we cook with as we offer our tips and recipes.
Hire a chef:
When one want food cooked at the comfort of their homes we are at their beck and call. You hire us we cook and clean up as you sit back on your couch.
Plans are under way to come up with a mobile up where one can make their orders and food delivered at our client’s address. We also have incorporated this on our website. www.zakwe2keuken.nl