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18 Apr, 2024
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Crispy Calamari by Chef Mercy Rose Tangara, H&S Chef Of The Month

Crispy Calamari by Chef Mercy Rose Tangara, H&S Chef Of The Month

H&S Chef Of The Month

Chef Mercy Rose Tangara
Chef Mercy Rose Tangara

Nationality: Kenyan

Interview With H&S Magazine

Who Is Mercy Rose Tangara?

As a 26-year-old Kenyan female chef, my culinary path has been as rich and diverse as the flavours I love to work with. My initial steps into the world of culinary arts began at the Boma International Hospitality College in Nairobi, Kenya. From there, my passion and ambition led me to further my education and skill set, obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts from BHMS in Lucerne, Switzerland, and from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland.

My professional journey took me through the sophisticated kitchens of Zurich, Switzerland, and to the historic Château la Fougerette in Burgundy, in the South of France. These experiences not only sharpened my skills but also deepened my appreciation for the intricacy of global cuisines. Today, I am proud to call Georgia, USA, my culinary home, where I continue to explore and innovate.

Throughout my travels and training, I have been inspired by the myriad of cultures and cuisines I have encountered. This has profoundly influenced my cooking style, allowing me to blend traditional flavours with contemporary techniques. The result is a creation of unique and memorable dishes that reflect my journey and the diverse culinary heritage I’ve been fortunate to experience.

 

Type Of Cuisine?

My cuisine can be described as Global Eclectic. It’s more of a fusion of Kenyan, Swiss, French, and American influences. I believe in celebrating the diversity of flavours and ingredients from around the world, creating dishes that are both comforting and innovative. Each cuisine I’ve encountered has contributed to my culinary identity, and I enjoy exploring the intersections between them to craft dishes that tell a story on the plate.

 

What Inspired You To Become A Chef?

My journey into the culinary world was inspired truly by passion. I started out pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, but my passion for the culinary space led me here. Coming from a large family, my mother used to cook quite a lot, one would think our home was like a restaurant. I tend to think that’s also where I picked up my love for the kitchen.

As I travelled and trained in different countries, I discovered new ingredients, techniques, and culinary traditions that further fuelled my desire to become a chef. Cooking allows me to express my creativity, connect with others, and share my love for food with the world.

 

What Is The Biggest Challenge You Have Faced In The Culinary Industry?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in the culinary industry is navigating gender and cultural biases. As a female chef from Kenya, I’ve encountered stereotypes and pre-conceptions. However, I’ve learned to embrace my unique background and perspective, using it as a source of strength and inspiration in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Another general challenge has been around the mindset of the African space in terms of the nobility of being a chef as a profession, but I’m glad that is gradually changing.

 

What’s Your Biggest Achievement In The Culinary Industry?

My most significant achievement was being part of the team that catered for Her Majesty, the late Queen Elizabeth II’s, 96th birthday and the celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee at the British Embassy in Bern, Switzerland.

 

When It comes To Cooking, What Is More Important To You, The Technique, The Ingredients Or The Creativity?

For me, all three elements—technique, ingredients, and creativity—are equally important in cooking. Technique provides the foundation for executing recipes with precision and skill, ensuring consistency and quality in every dish. High-quality ingredients are the building blocks of great cuisine, allowing flavours to shine and speak for themselves. And creativity is what sets a chef apart, inspiring innovation and pushing boundaries to create truly memorable dining experiences. By balancing these elements, I strive to create dishes that are not only delicious but also thoughtfully crafted and visually stunning.

 

Recipe Of The Week: Crispy Calamari

Crispy Calamari by Chef Mercy Rose Tangara, H&S Chef Of The MonthCrispy Calamari

Ingredients:

• (450g) squid/calamari tubes, cleaned and sliced into rings
• 1 cup (120g) all-purpose flour
• 1 tsp paprika
• ½ tsp garlic powder
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• Vegetable oil for frying
• Lemon wedges for serving

Garlic Aioli Sauce

Ingredients:

• ½ cup (120ml) mayonnaise
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 Tbsp lemon juice
• Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation: The Crispy Calamari

Rinse the calamari rings under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. Ensure they are completely dry before proceeding. In a shallow bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper, mix well to combine. Next, heat vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan or pot to 350°F (180°C). Working in batches, dredge the calamari rings in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour, ensuring the calamari rings are evenly coated. Now, carefully add the coated calamari rings batch by batch, to the hot oil, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the fried calamari to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Preparation: The Garlic Aioli Sauce

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper & mix until all is well combined. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 

Plating

Transfer the crispy calamari to a serving platter. Serve the garlic aioli sauce on the side for dipping & garnish with lemon wedges for squeezing over the calamari. Enjoy your crispy calamari served with flavourful garlic aioli sauce!