The Power of Namibian Fusion
“With food you need to be creative. Being there we got to show people, some of Namibia. We made a paptert, which most people there had never heard of or tasted before. They loved it.”
Representing Namibia, two graduate chefs from the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education (NICE), Uerihepura Mbuende and Mighty-Power Mwashekele, recently participated in a live cooking show at the International Green Week in Berlin in Germany. The two went to Germany to showcase the standard of Namibian cooking and wowed the audience. 99FM’s MYD Art sat down with the two chefs at NICE restaurant, after their return home, to talk to the two enthusiastic chefs and find out what the journey to become not only a chef, but a cooking representative of Namibia on an international stage, was like.
“It was quite an experience, we learnt a lot, got to try out different cuisines that we never thought we would try. We didn’t know we would be cooking in front of such a huge audience of over 400 000 people.” says Mighty-Power Mwashekele, who adds that this trip also meant that they both got “to see snow for the very first time.”
Mighty-Power adds that “With food you need to be creative. Being there we got to show people, some of Namibia. We made a paptert, which most people there had never heard of or tasted before. They loved it. We gave them something different from what they expected.”
The event, our inspiring chefs, participated in fell over the 15th to the 24th of January 2016. What it meant for the chefs was they were suddenly participating in a live cooking show at the world’s leading consumer trade fair and exhibition for agriculture, food and horticulture.
Uerihepura talks passionately about cooking, saying “I love cooking because it is love. Here you get to show how you feel on the inside and the more love you put into your food the better your dish comes out. I love the creativity that one always puts into cooking, the passion that goes into cooking. Another thing I love about cooking is the time, that pressure you are under to send your dish out on time. You are challenging yourself.”
When asked how he became a chef, Uerihepura says “I fell in love with cooking when I was about 18 years old. Back then I was working as a security guard at the Windhoek Country Club. I would pass by the kitchen and see the chefs cutting the meats and people making cakes. I fell in love with everything I saw in the kitchen and the smells and aromas coming out of the kitchen. So I decided to go back to school and finish by school and from there I started working towards a career as a chef.”
When talking the pressure that is synonymous in a professional kitchen, Mighty-Power says, “I think it’s something you become used to later. When we started as students in the kitchen, we had many people drop out because they couldn’t handle the pressure. Like they say, If you can’t take the heat, stay of the kitchen.”
Mighty-Power goes on to say “It comes down to a point of really wanting something. Pressure is part of life and to achieve your dreams you need to push through the pressure.”
Uerihepura adds to the points on pressure in the kitchen by saying, “As a chef you need to be hard working and to be hard working you will have to deal with pressure. You need to know what it is that you want to achieve in life one day and because of this you will be able to handle the pressure.”
Uerihepura goes on to say “We have a rule in the kitchen from when service starts and that is, don’t take anything personally. The kitchen is full of pressure and people shouting, if you take things personally you will not make it.”
The two men are both enthusiastic and inspiring, with big dreams to grow as chefs in Namibia. Mighty-Power notes that “Life is a learning process. I try to keep on top of my trade by reading a lot of books and watching lots of cooking shows like Master Chef. He notes that Fortune Kangueehi being on the show has inspired him to one day be in such a competition representing Namibia.
“My family inspires me” says Uerihepura, “I am from a hard working family. My mom, even though she is unemployed, raised all of us kids on her own. She supported us and pushed us. She inspires me.”
When asked what advice the two have for Namibia, Uerihepura says that he would like to see more Namibians becoming Chefs because “Being a Chef is a great job. You get to be creative every day and every day is different.”
Mighty-Power adds that “We can do a lot when it comes to cooking here because Namibia is a country with so many different tribes. Each tribe has their own way of preparing their food so if we learn from one another, if we bring our ideas together, we can create something very different from the rest of the world, something unique and something really Namibian.”
The International Green Week is an annual event which showcases the food, agricultural and horticultural industries. This year’s event had 1731 exhibitors and some 415 000 visitors.