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18 Apr, 2024
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Pesto Pasta With Chicken by Chef Mercy Rose Tangara, H&S Chef Of The Month

Pesto Pasta With Chicken 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: Pesto Pasta With Chicken

Pesto Pasta With Chicken Pesto Pasta With Chicken

Ingredients:

• 225g penne pasta
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
• Salt & pepper to taste
• 1 Tbsp olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 80ml basil pesto
• ¼ cup (60ml) heavy cream (optional)
• ¼ cup (25g) grated Parmesan cheese
• Fresh microgreens for garnish (optional)

 

Preparation: The Pesto Pasta With Chicken

Boil the pasta in hot water until al dente, then drain and set aside, reserving some pasta water. In a bowl, season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Now, heat the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat then add the seasoned chicken pieces and cook until golden brown and cooked through, for about 6–8 minutes. Once ready, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. In the same skillet, add minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant. Reduce the heat to low and add the cooked pasta to the skillet. Stir in the basil pesto until the pasta is evenly coated. Next, stir in the heavy cream to create a creamier sauce. Now, add the cooked chicken back to the skillet and toss everything together until heated through. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a splash of reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the pasta and toss to combine.

 

Plating

Serve the pesto pasta with chicken, hot and garnish with fresh microgreens if desired. Enjoy your delicious pesto pasta with chicken!