Kenyan-born chef, Bernice Kariuki has undoubtedly etched her name in the epitome of world-class stardom owing to her rise from the streets of Ofafa Jericho to become a first-team chef for English Premier League Giants, Arsenal.
The 51-year-old however, credits her success in landing the lucrative opportunity to a chance meeting with former Arsenal captain and current Chelsea skipper, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Speaking to Chams Media, Kariuki noted that at the time, she was part of a culinary team that prepared the meals for a Christmas party that Aubameyang was in attendance.
Seizing the moment, she served the player her specialty pilau dish. With the footballer dazzled by the cuisine, he sought to know the chef who prepared the meal- to which she presented herself and issued a request to the former Arsenal striker.
“So there’s one time we went to a Christmas party, and I met Auba and I urged him to consider me for a slot at Arsenal. The conversation bore fruits as later on, he informed me that I could be his personal chef and that’s how I got my job. ”
“He assisted me in getting the job because of the pilau I made at the party. I was taught by an Indian to make an exquisite pilau so it came in handy.”
“The Indian version that’s different from Kenyan is you cook rice 70 percent, do your sauce on the side and put rice, add a layer of meat, put rice, then another layer and that’s how you build the Indian version of pilau. So you cover and the flavour infuses. When he took a bite, he was curious to know the chef that prepared it,” she stated.
Kariuki works 14 hours a day, 90 hours a week- where her shifts begin in the wee hours of the morning due to 4 am runs by Arsenal players. She broke down their diet, noting that their meals ought to be served in a particular way.
“My shift starts at 3 am where we collect our fish in billingsgate and then we prepare the fish when the kitchen is cold. We do their shakes because the players arrive on the pitch by 4 am and do their running. Afterward, they have their omelet and some avocado, have a chilling time and begin their sessions at 11 am, so the money they’re paid is worth it.”
“We’re talking about 600 people in that big training ground so we have about 90 chefs. The first team has 27 chefs. It’s not just about cooking, it’s about healthy cooking. I’m a dietician so you ensure you marinate your food and cook. You also have to do their shakes, and juices from scratch.”
“They don’t eat the same food. They mostly eat fish, salmon and seabass, green beans plantain, wild rice,” she added.
Born and bred in Ofafa Jericho, Kariuki went to Precious Blood but was expelled in the first week due to naughty behaviour. Her father transferred her to a rural school where she completed her secondary studies. After getting her KCSE certificate, she informed her father that she sought to live abroad.
At the age of 17, she was fortunate enough to get a scholarship in Sweden.
“I enrolled in a culinary school for 18 months and I didn’t like what they were cooking because nobody told me we would be dealing with Swedish food, I aspired to cook the dishes you saw on TV. They ate lots of mashed potatoes and soups so I opted to become a pastry chef.”
“After that, I came to the United Kingdom. My father wanted me to become a doctor so I ended up taking a course in psychology for three years. After seven years of practice, I found my way back to cooking. I went to King’s college- one of the best schools and paid Ksh2 million for the course. I got a loan and look where I am now,” she noted.
FIFA Lifts Ban Imposed on Kenya
World football governing body FIFA on Monday, November 28, lifted the ban on Kenya.
In a letter from Secretary-General Fatma Samoura to FKF CEO Barry Otieno, a delegation comprising FIFA and CAF will be deployed to Kenya to define the next steps.
FIFA also announced plans to meet the new Sports Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba in a bid to iron out further issues in the country’s sports sector.
FIFA suspended Kenya from all footballing activities in February 2022, after former Sports CS Amina Mohamed disbanded the Football Kenya Federation in November 2021.
This prevented Kenya from taking part in all international competitions. Following the ban, Kenya missed out on three continental competitions including the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, CAF confederations and Champions League games.
This formed part of CS Namwamba’s key focus when assuming office. On his first day in office, the Sports CS engaged FIFA on a phone call in a bid to resolve the impasse.
“On my first day in office, I engaged FIFA on the phone to commence the process of resolving the impasse that has seen Kenya banned by the world football governing body.
“Government is committed to returning Kenyan football to normalcy in sync with the rule of law and public good,” he previously stated.
In a bid to seal the deal, the Sports CS met with FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Thursday, November 24, to ensure the country was in good books with the Federation.
“I met in Doha today; FIFA President Gianni Infantino, General Secretary Fatma Samoura and CAF President Patrice Motsepe.
“I congratulate Qatar for superbly hosting the world’s most loved sporting event, and commend FIFA for making football truly global,” Namwamba noted.
Steven Gerrad Tenure at Aston Villa Ends Indefinitely After 3-0 Defeat Against Fulham
Aston Villa have sacked their coach Steven Gerrard following 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Thursday night.
The former Liverpool midfielder took charge at Villa Park last November and secured 14th-placed finish in 2021/22.
Villa have won two of 12 Premier League games this season.
The club’s decision was announced shortly after Gerrard’s side suffered a comprehensive 3-0 defeat against Fulham at Craven Cottage – Villa’s sixth defeat in just 11 Premier League games.
A statement released after the match read: Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that Head Coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect.
A club spokesman said: “We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”
Gerrad replaced Dean Smith at Villa Park on November 11, 2021 and lasted less than a year before he became the fourth top-flight manager to lose his job so far this season, following Scott Parker, Thomas Tuchel and Bruno Lage.
Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino and ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel are eyed keenly by Villa, but whether the Birmingham club could entice either man to Villa Park remains to be seen.