Home Events From Ethiopia to Rwanda, “Taste of Kigali” Festival to Unlock Kigali’s Best Dishes

From Ethiopia to Rwanda, “Taste of Kigali” Festival to Unlock Kigali’s Best Dishes

by Daniel Sabiiti
2:07 pm

L-R: Chef Innocent Rutayisire, Teklu Sara Yesehak and Claude Bigayimpunzi briefing the press in Kigali ahead of the festival

The City of Kigali will this month host another international festival that is aimed at highlighting Kigali as a city that embraces global harmony and celebrates culinary unity in diversity.

The inaugural “Taste of Kigali” festival will run from March 23-24 bringing together 600 chefs and 120 local and international restaurants to showcase their richest national and international gastronomies.

This month Kigali hosted the first edition of the Kigali Triennial, a vibrant and multi-discipline art festival celebration of African arts aimed at promoting creative arts, culture and tourism in Kigali and Africa.

The two-day Taste of Kigali festival organized Ethiopians and Rwandans will take place at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Center (KCEV) and Onomo Hotel, will be packed with a variety of food, drinks, entertainment, and games for all.

The idea of the “Taste of Kigali” originally started in Ethiopia as the “Taste of Ethiopia” and the “Taste of Addis”, is organized by SACEL ltd from Ethiopia and Rwanda Chefs Alliance (RCA).

Teklu Sara Yesehak, the mind behind the festival, said that bringing the festival to Kigali is because it is her other home

Teklu Sara Yesehak, the CEO of SACEL said that based on over eight years of organizing the festival they decided to introduce the idea to Rwanda as a way of exposing the culinary and gastronomy richness of the City of Kigali but also collaboration with Kigali as their second home from Addis Ababa.

“We intend to bring our expertise to Kigali which is also our home but before doing this we did a culinary research which showed many visitors have been searching for expat foods and dishes. that is why we are sharing this experience to celebrate the taste of Kigali,” Yesehak said at a press briefing in Kigali on March 1, 2024.

Preventing Food Poisoning:

Food hygiene is key for hotels like Kigali Marriott Hotel, that serves global cuisine in an airy, atrium-styled atmosphere

The festival will also be an opportunity for training chefs with high level hygiene and food preparation skills to fight food poisoning- which taints the reputation of many restaurants and hotels, according to Innocent Rutayisire, the President of Rwanda Chefs Alliance.

Food poisoning has been a recent concern in Rwanda, and RCA said that this is one of the things they want to address at the festival.

“We are very concerned about this issue and this means we have to give the right skills and capacity to chefs so that they can know the causes for example to know which foods are served cold or warn,” Rutayisire said.

RCA Secretary General, Claude Bigayimpunzi also emphasized the need to address this issue by using experienced chef to train others to identify all points where food poisoning can be caused- this includes preparing, the tools and environment.

“Food poisoning is a big concern for us and it will come as a priority in the back of a chef’s mind at the festival but also will be followed up so that someone has a pleasant experience of food and not get sick, or call people sorcerers,” Bigayimpunzi said.

Seasoned Chef Claude Bigayimpunzi says sharing his experience will help young and upcoming chefs

Chef Rama Sindayigaya, a Culinary Lead at RCA said Rwanda is known for many things such as: security, cleanliness and kindness of people but this time is to showcase Rwanda as a cuisine destination especially local foods the taste of Rwandan food- which are a variety and full of nutrients.

“We are able to do that and don’t underestimate our capabilities because all our chefs are certified,” This is the time and the first edition, next year it may be the taste of Rwanda and Taste of East Africa,” Sindayigaya.

What To Expect?

The festival will have dance, music and performances and games. All participating hotels and restaurants will to prepare all kinds of food so that participants can enjoy all kinds of foods and tastes.

This aims to spotlight culinary landscape of the region and cultural experience. The gastronomies will be including the ones from the Americas, Asian – Chinese and Indian, Italian and French, Arabic, West Africa, South African and North Africa (Moroccan couscous), East African- especially Nyama Choma.

Rwanda will have a special stand which will showcase Rwandan local foods such as Invange (mixture of beans and starch foods, Isombe (Pounded cassava leaves), and Igisafuriya’, a mixture of different dishes cooked together with beef among others.

At the festival destinations will invite schools and restaurants and ensure all food handlers have a medical test (certificates) and wearing gloves but also learn from the top chef around the world.

Also one or a family can come and learn how to cook with lessons the live cooking events conducted by experienced chef, who will showcase hygiene and skills in preparing meals.

Impact and Giving Back:

All Muslims in Kigali will have a free meal to break their fast (Iftar).

The first day of the festival will coincide with the Islamic Holy Fast season of Ramadhan, and according to organizers, all Muslims will have a free meal to break their fast (Iftar).

Traditionally, those observing Ramadan break their fast by eating three dates, to emulate the way the prophet Mohammed broke his fast. Then, Iftar begins — a celebration with plenty of food, family and friends.

Part of festival financial proceeds will be donated to the Solid Africa- an organization that feeds patients hospitalized in various hospitals in the City of Kigali.

Tickets are now available but for those purchase online will cost Rwf5, 000 and on the gate entrance they will cost Rwf8, 000.

Solid Africa volunteers distributing food to patients. The festival will support their initiative as part of giving back to the Kigali community

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