Only about 5 years old, Moniko’s Garden restaurant has carved its name in the market as a place to have of the most freshest and healthy dishes in town. We talk to Jonas Gejke, Kenyan based director and also head chef at Moniko’s restaurants who takes us through one of his most successful ventures.
When did you discover your passion for food and what caused it?
When I grew up my father worked a tremendous amount so I ended up spending a lot of time with my mum in the kitchen. And so I started to learn to cook at 6 or 7. The real passion started when I got a chance to step in for a chef who got sick when I was a dishwasher. That’s really the first time I discovered my passion.
What inspired your decision to come to Kenya?
I started university very early and was engaged by 22 and I always thought we needed to go out into the world and experience new things. And one day I was studying at the fraternity and on the notice board there was a poster that said ‘Camp manager needed in Masaai Mara, Kenya’. And 6 weeks later I was here and I’ve been here ever since.
How did you get started in your career here in Kenya?
I started in Kenya by doing cooking classes for my office manager and her girlfriends and when the election happened we had nothing to do in the safari business so we opened the restaurant and then we have just gone on from there basically.
What other types of cuisine are you really interested in or curious about?
All types of cuisine! The dinner concept here is a bistro and I call it the world bistro. You will find our ten different main courses served each night are from 6 different parts of the world. I love French cooking, the Asian kitchen such as Indian and Japanese food. I also love Spanish and Italian. I can’t really pick one favourite because I love parts of all of them. If I had to be more specific I would say the Asian kitchen grabs me the most.
If you were going to be executed tomorrow what would you have as your last meal?
(Laughs) Seared tuna and ponzu sauce from Misono with some tuna sushi as a side.
Do you have a favourite meal that you love to cook?
One of my signature dishes would be a Beef Bourguignon or a Coq de Vin. I love to cook French casseroles that are slow cooked for hours.
Is there a special ingredient that you like to use in the kitchen?
I love fresh Rosemary and Thyme.
What do you like to do when you are not in the kitchen?
I am a big time fan of riding motorbikes. I just got back from a three-week trip in Nepal. Every November I go somewhere for three weeks to ride. And I also enjoy spending time with my kids.
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