Getting Ready for Kampala Restaurant Week

Some of you know that a big chunk of my time nowadays is spent working with Endiro Coffee, based in Uganda.  One of my roles is as the Corporate Executive Chef.  It's funny that I find myself cooking again after many years.  I still remember praying at Waffle House that God would allow me to be in full time ministry.  I was convinced that my time as a cook there was being wasted.  But, no ... with the Lord, nothing is wasted.

Anyway, we are getting ready for a big event in Kamapla, Uganda called the Kampala Restaurant Week.  This is a little different than the Kamapala Restaurant Awards that we competed in (and won!) last fall.  The biggest difference is that instead of competing in our own little category ("cafe") we must go head to head against restaurants of many different types.  Also, we are being judged on a three-course meal that we design especially for the event.

So, it fell to me to design the menu.  I'll be heading to Uganda soon to train our chefs to execute the meal perfectly.  Our entry this year embraces two culinary themes that are important to who we are as a company.  The first is, of course, coffee.  Coffee is a powerful symbol of the diversity and beauty of people and cultures throughout the nation and the world.  Also, coffee connects to simple and amazing people in farming villages.  We believe that “with enough coffee, we can change the world” – literally.  So, we are utilizing coffee heavily in this meal through beverage pairings and as an ingredient in cooking.  The second theme is the concept of “glocal food” (global and local).  We believe that Ugandan food is world-class and should interact with world flavors and forms.  This particular meal is an intermingling of Ugandan and Latin cuisine throughout.  The idea of “glocal food” is an invitation and challenge for us to enter into the world of the “other” and to discover the richness of coming together to brew a better world

Here are the courses:

Starter - Carne Asada Crostinis. Served with a Pourover of Bududa Bukalasi Coffee.
“Carne asada” is a marinated, grilled and sliced skirt steak popular in Mexican cuisine.  It is often served as a taco. A “crostini” is an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread and any number of toppings.  For our purpose, we are bringing together these two Latin concepts with the subtle Ugandan flavors of mango and pineapple.  The result is a bright, tangy and sweet appetizer that is visually stunning, texturally intriguing and simply delicious.  We are pairing this dish with our Single Origin Bududa Bukalasi prepared as a pourover.  The coffee’s balance of earthiness and acidity complement the smoky steak and fruity flavors of the crostini in a heavenly way.

Entree - Coffee-rubbed Pork Chop Sandwich with Coffee-candied Bacon and Grilled Pineapple. Served with Cold-Brewed Iced Kisoro Coffee.
Here we are taking the concept of a Mexican molé sauce, deconstructing it and rebuilding it as a dry rub.  Anchoring the dry rub is our own single-origin Ugandan coffee from Kisoro. We then take real Ugandan honey and more of that coffee to candy some thick cut bacon.  A generous slice of grilled pineapple brings the bright fruitiness to the party.  Served with hand-cut seasoned fries and a glass of ultra-refreshing cold brewed, iced coffee.  It is a glocal homage to two of our favorite Ugandan tastes – coffee and the Pork Joint!

Dessert - The Aztec Frozen Mocha
I am an amatuer barista at best, so I developed
the basic concept and threw it over to our Head of Coffee for the final development.  Basically, it is a twist on Mexican Hot Chocolate decked out with ice cream, spices and espresso to create the pefect "kiss goodnight" dessert - sweet with a kick.

I have grown to love cooking and how it gives me the opportunity to be creative, to learn, to serve people and to grow in my understanding of people and cultures.  If you are in Kamapala for restaurant week, stop by and try the meal.  If not, maybe I'll cook for you some time.  If you are still wondering how God is going to use you to change the world, hear the Lord say, "What's that in your hand?" (Exodus 4:2)

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