Kenya's celebrity chef reveals his all time inspiration who made him be who he is today

Behind all the glitz and glamor, where did it all began and who set him off on this life-defining career path that has seen him continue to change the world one plate at a time and rubs shoulders with international celebrities.

  • At just 30 years old, Chef Ali’s plate is already full and his life course is not even halfway done yet.
  • Countless high-profile figures ranging from ambassadors to former President Mwai Kibaki have all taken a bite of his mind-blowing delicacies.
  • In a candid interview with Business Insider SSA, Chef Ali revealed how his love for cooking started, the person who tendered over the seed and religiously watered it until he breathe his last.

At just 30 years old, Chef Ali’s plate is already full and his life course is not even halfway done yet.

Thanks to his passion for cooking, he has hosted and featured in uncountable local and international cooking shows from Tamu Tamu: Kenyan Cuisine with a Twist, Pilipili Jikoni, Kikwetu Supa Chef to Power breakfast with Chef Ali.

Countless high-profile figures ranging from ambassadors to former President Mwai Kibaki have all taken a bite of his mind-blowing delicacies.

And that’s not all, when he is not cooking; he is fashionista and a model and works with Kenyan brands like Kaveke whose designs he showcases in international runways such as New York Fashion Week.

But behind all the glitz and glamor, where did it all began and who set him off on this life-defining career path that has seen him continue to change the world one plate at a time and rubs shoulders with international celebrities such as Chef Gordon Ramsey, popular with Hell's Kitchen TV show and Egyptian Chef based in Chef Osama.

The love for cooking seed was planted, tendered over and watered religiously by Chef Ali’s grandfather Sheikh Suleiman Mohamed Ali Jaradi popularly known as ‘Adam Jaradi’.

“ My grandpa passed on when I was actually doing my finals at the Kenya Utalii College before I graduated as the top student so unfortunately he didn’t see me doing the big things but he actually had faith that I would be able to do this because he always used to tell me you are going to be a big chef, you gonna be successful  so I am actually living his legacy right now, its really amazing that he actually saw this coming and always told me that ‘Ali you gonna make it,  you are going to be one of the best chefs in the world and I am on that journey right now,’” Chef Ali told Business Insider SSA.

Like 'father' and son, the two loved cooking and would spend hours watching Chef Osama, a famous Egyptian Chef who had his own cook show airing on MBC television in the Middle East spinning one delicacy after another.

His grandfather’s curiosity to try out Chef Osama’s recipes as seen on his shows saw him embark on a journey that would shape who Chef Ali would become today, and of course he couldn’t leave his partner in crime behind, could he?

So he would tag Ali along with him to the grocery shop to buy ingredients  for them to cook and experiment together back at home.

“He used to pick me from school we go to Uchumi supermarket I remember there was this best supermarket back then when I was in six grade in Mombasa, we would buy ingredients’  and then go home and cook some amazing mean meal with him and then basically just enjoy our dinner,” said Chef Ali.

With every trip to the grocery following by a fun cooking session,  Ali fell in love with cooking even more and with a kindred soul as his grandfather by his side to guide him through he quickly found his footing in the kitchen grew more confident and his grandfather would let me cook whatever he wanted.

It was just a matter of time before Chef Ali went professional with the full support and blessing of his grandpa.

“I started cooking when I was 9-years-old that is professionally and then I started my cake business when I was 12-years-old, I baked a birthday cake and sold it at school and from there on I don’t remember asking my parents for a penny,”

As life has however, come to sadly remind us, nothing is permanent and even the sweetest tea made by Kericho Gold cames to glass bottom, a dark cloud would soon came and hung over the Ali’s family with the sad passing of their maternal grandfather.

“My lowest moments was when I lost my grandfather he was and still is my all-time greatest inspiration, I was actually sitting for my finals at Utalii college and this was something he always wanted to see do and then he passed on that was in 2009. That was my lowest point and really affected me but it also motivated me to make him proud  wherever he is”

Close to ten years later, Sheikh Suleiman Mohamed Ali couldn’t be prouder, his grandson is making big moves just like he foresaw many years ago and more importantly he is staying humble while at it.

Mzee Jaradi would be over the moon to learn that his grandson as not only conquered the Kenyan cooking scene but he has similarly left the African continent in a trance and begging for more after hopeless getting hooked on his mouth-watering foods.

He also become the first chef in East Africa and second person in the ‘cradle of mankind’ to become Chevrolet global ambassador, what a feat!

“He is so proud of me right now…I truly believe that.”  Said  Ali.

His eyes complete with signature ‘angry birds’ eyebrows are now firmly set on the price, the international stage.

Chef Ali recently launched a brand new international show that will see him meet some of the biggest names in the Cake industry and give Kenyans access to some of the latest trends in sugar artistry.

Given a chance to cook with his grandfather again Chef Ali wouldn’t think twice about it and know exactly what he would cherish with delight.

“That would be his favourite steak he used to love steak and Pizza oh my God I used to make Steak and Pizza every other day with him,”

What more could a grandfather ask for from his great-grandson?

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