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September 25, 2018

Chef Interview: Executive chef at Diani Reef Resort

Executive chef Daniel Deche
Executive chef Daniel Deche

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa is located by the world-renowned Diani beach, over a sprawling and serene area of 34 acres. It is truly a paradise waiting for you with a magical experience. 

Offering world-class hospitality standards, this beach resort is the perfect destination for beach holidays, corporate and social events and grand weddings. 

With multi-cuisine dining outlets, bars, well-appointed rooms and suites, swimming pool and spa, it promises nothing but the ultimate holiday experience.

Meet Daniel Deche, executive chef at the resort.

 

How did you get into cooking?

I was inspired by my grandfather, who was a cook. I trained on the job, starting at Hemingways in Watamu, where I was inspired by Omar Menhouk, the then executive chef. I went to Utalii for formal training then started my career as chef de partie at Hemingways Watamu. 

I got a job as Sous Chef at Billionaire Resort in Malindi for two years, going on to work at Lawford’s Hotel Malindi, Nyali Beach Hotel, and now Diani Reef, where I have been for two years so far.

 

What’s your style of cooking?

It’s basically multi-cuisine, having been informed by a career cooking for international guests at the coast. I can do everything from Levantine, Pan-Asian and African to Italian.

 

What are your five favourite ingredients?

Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Dill and Parsley.

 

What are the most popular dishes in your menu at Diani Reef?

We have pan-seared jumbo prawns, which we get right from the sea. We marinate them in ginger, garlic, salt and pepper then mix with olive oil and sear on the pan. 

Thereafter, we mix with lemon juice and salted butter and serve. 

We also have lobster thermidor, where we wash the lobster with lemon juice, remove the flesh from the shell, cube and set aside. We then saute ginger and garlic in a pan with butter, add mushrooms and cook for five minutes, then add cream, parmesan and parsley, toss in the lobster cubes, while still cooking. 

Finally, we take the sauce back in the shell, put in a salamander then serve with coconut rice. 

 

What would you be doing if you were not a chef?

I would probably be a doctor. I like to think that a chef is like a doctor and given the way food can affect and even heal the body, it’s like a doctor giving medicine to a patient. 

You also always get different patrons with different culinary needs: some are gluten free, others want to lose weight, while some still are vegetarian. You have to have the knowledge to cater to each one.

 

Any celebrities you’ve cooked for in your career?

Flavio Briatore and Mario, a footballer who plays for Manchester United.

 

What do you like to cook in your own kitchen?

Jumbo prawns because of their size and they look so good. I make that with Zanzibar coconut sauce, which is spicy and has coconut and saffron, then serve with rice. The ingredients are: 

 

Lemon, herb and parmesan crusted fish 

50g bread crumbs

Grated zest of lemon

Grated parmesan cheese

2tbsp chopped parsley

Salt and pepper

2 skinless fillet of red snapper

50g butter

Juice of lemon

 

Method

Mix the bread crumbs with lemon zest, parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper.

Season the fish and pan fry in a little oil for 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Turn over and sprinkle with the crumb mixture.

Brown in the pan under a hot, preheated grill for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter with juice of lemon to the pan and melt around the fish. Serve with roast potatoes and a vegetable mixture.

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