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My journey from agric to kitchen – Chef Kukah

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Bitrus Kukah John is gradually climbing the ladder to being a chef of repute in the hospitality industry, he started as a Kitchen Steward at the inception of Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel in 2009 and today, he has moved up through the ranks to the main Kitchen presently as a Commis 1.
In this interview, he shares his experience in the culinary journey so far , which he described as exciting.

Here is an excerpt from the interview.

Bitris Kukah John

On the journey so far

I work in the Kitchen at Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel at the Commis 1 level. I was employed as a Kitchen Steward at the hotel’s inception in February 2009 and moved up through the ranks to the main Kitchen presently as a Commis 1.

This promotion came just after I completed my Commis Chef training and it has really marked the beginning of my culinary journey at the hotel which has been exciting so far.

Prior to joining Southern Sun Ikoyi, I worked with a hotel in Kaduna and Abuja as a Waiter. My foray into the hospitality industry was just by chance.

I had graduated from Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic Zaria, with a National Diploma in General Agriculture. I wanted to get busy and be productively engaged, so when the opportunity to work in the hotel came up, I did not hesitate to take on the challenge.

On the functions of a Cummis 1 in the hotel

As a Commis Chef , like any other position in the Hotel, my role is very important because we all work as a team in the service chain. The Kitchen department in any hotel is very key and so our functions and relevance cannot be overemphasized.

As a Commis chef you’re on the first rung of the ladder to becoming a great chef. In most kitchens you will do food preparation work and basic cooking under the supervision of a chef de partie or section chef, rotating through sections such as sauce, vegetables, fish and butchery roughly every six months.

I am particularly tasked with maintaining hygiene, standards, ensuring clean food preparation areas, that equipment function properly, that work surfaces and serving areas are safe and that sanitary food handling practices and standards are strictly adhered to.

On the importance of training to service delivery in the hotel

The importance of my role in elevating the customer experience at our hotel became clearer to me following my year long training at the Christina Martin Culinary School Art Studio in George, in South Africa.

Working and schooling together with other colleagues from other regions really challenged my career and thought processes and has quite evidently made me a better chef on my return.

Now I am more confident in my abilities as a Chef, paying more attention to details relating to health and safety, diet and nutrition and the quality of produce from our suppliers.

Also ensuring cost effectiveness in meal preparations which all add up to ensuring that our end customers are pleased with the overall dining experience at our hotel.

ON plans to mentor others after his train

This training has really thrown up a new zeal in me, the desire to take my career to a whole new level. The training was quite extensive and intensive, so now that I am back, I continue under the supervision of both the Chef de Partie and Executive Chef, imparting knowledge to my colleagues about the new techniques and modern ways of cookery I have learned.

I particularly do this as we get rotation periods through various sections in the kitchen . I share new and more effective methods of getting the job done with my colleagues as I go through each section.

On his future aspirations

Well, my recently concluded training in South Africa was at a culinary school that is accredited and affiliated to the well-known City & Guilds of London (C&G), so the certificates that we earn at the school are recognised worldwide.

For me this is great as it gives me added confidence about my skills. Since I have chosen the path of the Chef/Cookery business, this training has exposed me to limitless opportunities.

I believe that there is still so much for me to do and learn and this I will be doing in the future, just as I have in the past 9 years at Southern Sun Ikoyi.

On the hotel’s kitchen team

The hotel is truly blessed with great staff and the award winning head Chef provides a scrumptious array of savory dishes and desserts all made from the freshest ingredients that simply melt away with every bite.

The hotel restaurant also impressively caters for guests with particular dietary concerns including having excellent choices for vegetarian diners.

So, this Easter celebration promises to be delightful with special treats for guests and customers, including a mouthwatering Easter special Sunday Brunch.

This special Easter Sunday Brunch is accompanied with choice champagne, exotic cocktail mixes and fine wines all aimed at tickling even the most selective taste buds. All this at discounted rate.

Come and experience the real Southern Sun comfort this Easter with your friends and loved ones and you will be glad you came.

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