Tales Of A Chef : Bruno Meps Interview

Tales Of A Chef : Bruno Meps Interview

Author /Phil Kuria

 

Suppose world war three broke today and people started fighting using guns, chemical weapons, german shepherds, pangas and jembes, Bruno Meps wouldn’t use any of those. He would brandish a Challah and whip the hell out of his enemies. A challah is a special bread in Jewish cuisine that’s normally braided like the head of an innocent nursery girl who loves to sing. Its only eaten on special occasions & on major Jewish holidays. So Meps would start hitting his enemies one by one, on the face then shout “gluten is bae” with a scary voice. Meps, alias chef Mepukori a pastry chef in Movenpick Nairobi feels that flour is like avatar. To be specific I’ll use the exact words he used. “The magic of gluten”. I called Meps today (whatsapp call) and he was like “eeeehh? Uumh, yes?” even before I could say hello. I responded. “ Unaniskia? Hello Meps unaniskia?” because in Kenya there’s no long phone call that can end without asking ‘unaniskia’ so I decided to ask it earlier rather than later.

He was like “ Yes. {A yes that you give when your boss briefs you}” . Then I said “Hello Meps, Ni Phil. Ni Phil”.

Meps: “Ahh ooh Phil mbona unanicall na whatsapp?”

Me: “Hehe eh-uh sina credit”

Meps: “ Ah wacha nikucall.”

 Just like that, Meps called me to interview him. Its not sad, I was lucky.

     I’ll tell you about Meps in a while, I just didn’t find it interesting to scribble down a whole interview dialogue. A dialogue isn’t a good way to convey message to your readers. In lieu, I choose to give info like dose. In small bits, little by little, till it syncs well in you.

  At five years old, Meps learnt how to make Banana bread. He knew that in order to bake something, at least something edible, he needed to assemble the ingredients first. Flour, sugar, bananas, baking powder/soda, milk, salt. He learnt this from his grandmother who actually carries the gene of good cooking… {At five years, I was somewhere in Naivasha. In brown shorts. Shorts that struggled to reach my knees and a blue sweater, holding an oblong and hitting innocent plants and obsessed with sweets and street bhajias}… His most profound childhood memory is stuck on the day he made one of his frequent visits to his grandma to bake and just before they begun baking, his grandma sensed a very thin disturbance on air. Being a skilled grandma with absurd innate cooking abilities, she found out that the flour was stale. So Meps was sent to throw it and he went, but never threw it. Instead, he began to knead. He kneaded it so good like how he was taught. Upon seeing this, his grandma knew that an inherent chef in Meps was born. And not a ordinary one indeed.

 He grew up adoring scenes of food, through primary school, high school and he finally cleared with an unsullied A (-) minus in K.C.S.E . For a lot of Kenyans if asked, many would prefer to attend med school. Some would say they’d love to pursue law. Others engineering. Others computer science. Others acting. But those who’d prefer engineering would say it with grass in their mouth. Seated inside their home garden, using grass as toothpick, surfing on instagram and not wanting to hear any stories of Corona. But Meps was different. He didn’t want to be held captive to pursue a course that he disliked. Even when his family suggested. Meps says there was some kind of strife between his interests and theirs. He never used grass as toothpick, so after heavy negotiations, he was the one to decide what to do with his life.

  So one day when he attended an expo, he saw something that caught his eye. IHTI ( a culinary college in kileleshwa) He said he loved it because it looked like a diamond and he wanted diamonds.. No he didn’t say that. He said he loved it & thats how he ended up in the college. After two years of grind & study, Meps graduated. Without a dark hat and a long gown but with a long white cap and a chef’s coat. A chef. To add some salt, he was awarded the best in Pastry. Now he realized his decision not to attend a university was like a mango tree in Ukambani. It bore fruits. Season after season.Sweet big fruits.

 On the day he was awarded, the pastry chef in Panari, -by then who had attended the graduation saw him. He loved the fruits of Meps hardwork and you know what happens when you admire a fruit? You want it. You want to make a smoothie out of it. So he noticed him. Such success is palpable.

Meps joined Dusit D2 as an intern. There he grinded like a honey bee. He finished, then joined Fairmont Mt Kenya for a second internship. There he grinded more, like a wasp. His drudgery was sharp. His blood boiled more for being a chef. It gave him ecstasy. Remember the chef in Panari? The one who wanted a fruit? Yes he did it. He shot his shot & called Meps to Panari. So Meps packed his belongings in a big suit case then went to Panari. Not as an intern. Ah ah, as chef. Employed with dignity. There he grinded. Like an Indian elephant that carries people and all of a sudden snaps in the middle of New Dehli. After a short stretch, the pastry chef who called in Meps because of he admired the fruits of his hardwork moved. He shifted his station from Panari to the stunning Movenpick in Westlands as a chocolatire. You know what happens when an icon moves? He moves with a suitcase plus a fruit that he admired. So he moved with Meps where plastered him with a pastry chef job. There he grinds. HARD!

 Currently Meps has a kitchen somewhere near Wangige where he bakes deep pastry. His guilty food pleasure before, was éclairs and now gooseberries. He describes gooseberries as something avatar. I had to look at my phone when he described it. He says pea soup with gooseberries is a palate bomb. His signature dish is éclairs with lemon curd. A dessert that he confesses is magical

I asked him what his personal ambition is, and he said its educating people about flour and the things it can do. 

And how does one get good with baking? “It’s a process because you know the process really matters. It’s a journey. I prefer taking someone step by step because if I send you a recipe it will do you no good” - Meps.

I have tasted one of Mep’s cake. The red velvet. It’s magical. In last year’s annual Utalii competition, we met. Expect that I wasn’t a participant. I had taken my one of my close acquaintances. If you have been to Movenpick, you've probably spotted a chocolate room that's very conspicuous. That room, is his chamber at work.(He's a wizard in chocolates no lie. Who makes eiffel tower with chocolate?) Now I give you a chance to meet him, tell me if Gluten doesn't look like bae to him.

 

Instagram: @ Bruno Meps.