Ken Gambura, a former sales and business development manager, founded the Zimbabwean, Southern African and Vegetarian Kitchen, Braai Flavours in 2015. Braai Flavours delivers open fire, smoked and grilled meals in and around Nottinghamshire, UK; it also runs an online grocery store and caters at charity, corporate and private events.
Championed by the Michelin-starred chef Marco-Pierre White at the Nottingham Food Festival in 2015, Braai Flavours has gone on to win several awards including the 2018 Lux Life Magazine Food & Drink Award for Best African Cuisine Restaurant – UK and International Cuisine Food Brand of the Year – UK. In August 2018, Ken was featured in the Huffington Post UK article ‘How Chefs Get Inspiration From Around The World.’
This Saturday December 15, 2018 Braai Flavours will launch their cook book ‘BraaiFlavours: Taste the Adventure’ – a collection of some of their most popular dishes.
I guess let’s start at the beginning! What is the story behind Braai Flavours?
Around 2015, I worked with a charity. One of the things I did was cook food for their events to help generate revenue. I’ve always loved cooking, and this was one way I could support the charity and give back to the community as well as feed my passion. Believe it or not, that was where the idea for Braai Flavours was born. I started off with a series of street food stalls/pop-ups in and around Nottingham at markets and food festivals, and then we opened up a restaurant last year.
How did you learn to cook?
I grew up around food. My mum was a really good cook and most of what I know about cooking I learnt from her.
What was the inspiration behind the cook book?
The book was inevitable. When we opened Braai Flavours 3 years ago, it was immediately popular which took us by surprise. People were so open to trying the dishes – the vegetarian and vegan dishes in particular really took off. Customers soon started asking for the recipes and were curious about the flavours and spices we used, as well as the cultural significance of the dishes. They have continued to ask for 3 years so eventually we had no choice but to do this! For us, the cook book is a way of giving back to our community and customers and thanking them for their support.
What can we find in the book?
‘Taste the Adventure’ is a collection of some of our signature and most requested dishes since we started, including the sumu chicken, boerewoers and vegetarian braai. It also features vibrant photography, fast facts about the origins of some of the dishes and poetry penned by my sister, Isabel, who co-wrote and edited the book.
Sumu chicken sounds…hmmm…succulent! What is it made of?
It’s essentially grilled chicken glazed in our signature sumu sauce. The recipe was handed down by my father. If you want to know more, you need to get the book!
Family seems to be central to Braai Flavours.
Family does play a big part. As well as Isabel editing the book, my son designed the back cover and my younger brother created the banners and logo. My son is autistic and an aspiring artist and another book cover design of his won a World Book Day competition at his school. He has also had work from a school project exhibited at the Nottingham Contemporary Art Centre.
The banners and logo were designed my young brother who is a musician based in Zimbabwe. My nephews and nieces are also part of Braai Flavours helping me out at events wherever they may be.
Many of the recipes in ‘Taste the Adventure’ can involve the whole family, including the kids, making creating flavoursome food a lot of fun.
What have the last 3 years been like for Braai Flavours?
We have grown tremendously and learnt more than we could have imagined. One of the things I was and am still big on is giving back to the community. Alongside our restaurant, we ran cooking workshops for the homeless and young offenders to help in their rehabilitation. This was supported by the local council. But things grew so fast that we actually had to rethink our model; we couldn’t do as much community work as we wanted as the restaurant was so busy. We closed the restaurant, so we could re-evaluate and find the right space to allow us to do what we really find to be fulfilling – creating tasty, healthy food and giving back to the community.
That’s commendable and refreshing! So, where can we find Braai Flavours now?
We are currently online, catering for events, delivering and selling our sauces and other Southern African condiments. We are looking forward to announcing a new space soon.
What has been a highlight for you?
It’s been wonderful to see some of the young people we have trained in our kitchen go on to achieve success. Two of them are now apprentice chefs, one is a beautician and another a photographer whose work has exhibited at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. This is why being able to work with young people as we create good food is so necessary.
Where will ‘Taste the Adventure’ be available?
This Saturday December 15th we’ll be at Sherwood Christmas Market, then on Sunday 16th at the Park Market, both in Nottingham. On the 21st of December, we’ll be at Heanor Foodie Friday Market in Derbyshire. Signed copies will be on sale and there will be recipe tasters too.
Get the book here:
Sherwood Christmas Market, Saturday December 15, 2018 – 9am-3pm
Sherwood High Street Market, Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG5
The Park Christmas Market, Sunday December 16, 2018 – 10am-3pm
The Park Market, Newcastle Circus, The Park Estate, Nottingham NG1
Heanor Foodie Friday Market, Friday December 21, 2018 – 9am-2pm
Heanor Market Place, Derbyshire DE75 7AA
Kindle version: www.amazon.co.uk
Hard copies: https://www.braaiflavours.com/#menu
Events email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chef’s email: email@example.com