Jean Baptiste Bizimana, one of the most talented chefs at Kigali Marriott Hotel became the third in the recent Gorilla Highland Silver Chef 2019, buying him into a position of being one of the top chefs in the region, after participating with competitors from Rwanda, DR Congo, and Uganda.
Chef Bizimana has been a junior sous chef since 2017 at Kigali Marriott Hotel, where great Chefs from the region are committed to taking diners to a global culinary tour with diverse tastes that meet with the most elegant full-course meals.
He has been building up to his dreams and talent in the culinary world.
He is most grateful to Kigali Marriott Hotel for pushing him to this level and will not stop until he reaches his dream of becoming the Rwandan Gordon Ramsay.
IGIHE caught up with him, and he is now taking us through the journey of his passion for culinary practices, the Gorilla Highland SilverChef competition, and aspirations.
IGIHE: What made you chose to become a chef in the first place and how did you get at Kigali Marriott Hotel?
Chef Bizimana: I developed the desire to become a chef when I was still a young boy. My family and I went out to share dinner at the Mille Collines Hotel where I saw an executive chef for the first time in my life who had come to ask about our experience with the meal.
I was immediately attracted by his outfit; the long hat with his white vest. (He pauses with a smile…) It was impressive. From there, the idea was implanted in my mind for good.
Immediately after secondary school, I enrolled in the Kagarama Culinary School, where I undertook a 3-year program in culinary arts.
On completion of the training, I got my first Job with Karisimbi Hotel where I worked for 5 years, building my chef experience. I then joined Kigali Serena Hotel as a sous chef, this too added greatly to my experience.
It was in 2017, as Kigali Marriott Hotel had just opened shop in October that I applied for the position and was immediately recruited as a junior sous chef.
During my time here at the hotel, I have had the opportunity to train under experienced chefs and get the chance to work with them on many events and signature dishes, which inspires me.
IGIHE: What would you describe as your preference in cooking? And what signature dish are you particularly proud of?
Chef Bizimana: I would say that I enjoy Indian food. When I came to Kigali Marriott hotel my executive sous chef introduced me to different Indian cooking styles; I became very fond of them especially this one ‘chicken biryani’. (He gives a chuckle of delight) I love spicy food very much.
Nevertheless, I would say that my signature dish is a more traditional dish and that is goat stew with banana. That is my first choice at any given time.
IGIHE: You are one of the three top chefs from this year’s Gorilla Highland Silver Chef competition; could you tell us what motivated you to participate in the first place? And how was the experience?
Chef Bizimana: I was here last time the Gorilla Highland SilverChef competition 2018 took place. It was hosted by Kigali Marriott Hotel and one of our chefs; Chef Sindayigaya participated and won the regional SilverChef award. I told myself I wanted to participate too.
So when the hotel chose me to represent the hotel in the competition, it was an opportunity that I could not pass on. With the help of the Hotel, I got in and also trained with colleagues and senior chefs.
I learned a lot of things during the competition. I gained speed, connection with fellow chefs from DRC and Uganda, and earned more experience with food presentation.
Being part of this regional experience was most definitely an amazing experience. I earned a certificate as one of the best chefs in the region.
IGIHE: Does your family share your love for cuisine?
Chef Bizimana: My family is my number one support, they pray for me, they are very supportive and they are very proud of me; both my wife and my children.
IGIHE: Do you enjoy cooking for your family too or you let your wife be in charge?
Chef Bizimana: I love cooking for my family on my day off. I would have enjoyed doing it all the time but I don’t always have the time.
IGIHE: What are your plans for the future?
Chef Bizimana: I dream of becoming a distinguished cook, one like Gordon Ramsay; he is a good chef, mentor and very tough (laughs).
He is my role model; I wish to be like him or even more and helping other chefs to be better at their specialty. I can see myself even hosting a TV show that showcases fine cuisines and training other aspiring chefs.