Chef’s Table -Talisman’s Chef Ray Cournede

written by Wendy Watta 23rd January 2016

With preparations for Nairobi Restaurant Week underway, Ray Cournede, Executive Chef at The Talisman gives us an insider’s perspective of what goes on in the kitchen.

I am by no means a wordsmith. I am a Chef. It is all I have ever known and all I will probably ever need to know. When Yummy asked me to write this column, it was a bit like trying to draw blood from a stone. I was born in Tahiti and grew up in Asia between India and Thailand. At the age of twenty I moved to Denmark, where I am originally from, and enrolled in culinary school, already completely aware that this was going to be my chosen path.

chef's table-Chef Ray of Talisman

Chef Ray Cournede

In 2004 I opened my own Italian restaurant in Copenhagen, which I then sold in 2009 when I moved to Kenya. My family runs Peponi Hotel in Lamu and after some subtle persuasion, they convinced me to come out and take over their kitchen by the ocean. This was an incredible learning experience as I got to experiment with some of the freshest seafood the Indian Ocean has to offer. After 2012, the Kenyan coast saw a bit of a tourist slump and so I took on the position of Executive Chef at Windsor Hotel & Country Club for 3 years before stepping into some very big boots here at The Talisman.

Deciding to be part of NRW was a no brainer. As someone who has worked in various restaurants and therefore understands the dining culture both in Kenya and abroad, I am drawn by the fact that this concept is not about monthly targets and profit margins. It is really more personal to me as a Chef. NRW is about opening our doors to the ever‐ growing number of curious foodies in this city and letting them experience a little taste of our restaurants. It is an open invite for all, introducing the notion that eating out doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. On the other hand, it is also an incredible opportunity for young chefs who are just getting started in the industry to learn. I am encouraging every Sous and Commis to go and experience what Nairobi has to offer, get new ideas and fresh inspiration for us to be able to innovate and grow.

Talisman Chef

Having lived in Thailand for instance, I find that there is such a different culture when it comes to eating out. From street food kiosks to street side restaurants (which are literally everywhere), it is so easy to catch a bite as you go about your daily business. Eating out is more commonplace than eating at home and it is all fresh and delicious. Nairobi is slowly getting to the point of celebrating the eating out culture, and NRW is steering things in that direction. Dear food lovers, be sure to explore the menus at the various participating restaurants‐ I’m sure you will discover a few favourites!

Talisman Chef

The NRW menu at Talisman showcases some of Chef Ray’s culinary experiences honed throughout his travels, with dishes that hail from his Asian upbringing (Crispy Chinese Pork Ribs, Bangkok ‐Style Fried Snapper) to some simple Italian dishes (you must try the MushroomCarpaccio), all mixed with a little Scandinavian technique (House Cured Salmon). His dish of the moment is however the Seared Beef Tagliata which has been flying out of the kitchen. Be sure to try these out for yourself!


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