My girls are the reason I work

Chef Ali Said Mandhry.
 Ali Mandhry, Chef and TV Personality

When I wake up at 5 am — which is my normal waking time — I pray, jog, and take my daughters to school. I’m blessed with two girls and my lovely wife Dija. They are the reason I am motivated to go to work. And the end of the day, for me, it’s all about family and wanting the best for me. They make me feel complete.

After dropping my girls at school, I usually head to the office to check on my correspondence. I then ensure that the tea and cake pop-up store I co-own with my wife is stocked before 10am. I market the store as much as I can on social media. Afterwards, I go to my test kitchen to do a recipe. Later, I will pick my girls from school, head home for lunch and then I’m back to the office.

I cook a lot at home although I don’t have a favourite meal to prepare. I cook anything that is edible! I also eat anything as long as it is halal. It should come as no surprise that my favourite part of the day is during meal times because, well, I am in love with food. For breakfast, I normally eat what I get. Sometimes it is mahamri and mbaazi, sometimes bhajia…it is usually very varied. Lunch is usually light — a grill and salad would do. In the evening I drink tea. My favourite is the Kericho Gold fruit infusions. I do eat some fruits as well. I enjoy making smoothies for dinner, and every weekend, my family and I go out for dinner. My evening routine before bed is pretty simple: I shower, drink water and head to bed.

I am a very positive person who doesn’t look at problems as challenges. Life is full of them every single day and we are meant to overcome them by fixing them, being strong and focused. I don’t let them bring me down. I can’t really explain the challenges that I face because I never let them be a challenge.

The best career advice I’ve ever received is to always stay focused, have a passion for whatever I do and success will most likely follow. Those mantras have been driving me and it’s what I’d tell anyone right now.

I love everything about what I do because at the end of the day I love cooking. But now I cook on a different level. I don’t just cook for people to eat; I am a broadcast chef. I’m more of a mass communication chef. I spread the love of cooking through my recipes in the newspapers as well. My love for it is bolstered when people give me feedback; their appreciation keeps me going. 

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Cooking is a life skill and I think it is important for children to be taught how to cook. I think it’s important for them to also learn the nutritional aspects of what they eat — they need to know what is healthy and what is junk. My little girl likes to call me out when we’re out and I buy junk food, and she usually refuses to eat it. And if you don’t know how to cook, thanks to technology, it’s much easier these days to learn. Just remember, practice makes perfect.

Outside work, I spend time at home with my family watching Netflix, even though my wife always insists that I fall asleep ten minutes after a movie we are watching starts. The last great thing I watched is the movie Me Before You. I enjoy watching love stories, especially the emotional ones so I can cry for no reason. It’s healthy — trust me. 

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Chef Ali MandhryChef Ali