Kitchen for hire, anyone?

Thursday, August 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Chefs at work at the Saraya Nairobi Kitchen Lab. Photo/Kemzy Kemzy

Kemzy Kemzy

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost every sector of the economy, more so the hospitality industry, which has been hardest hit.

Most hotels, restaurants, bars and entertainment joints have closed down because they were not generating any income.

But for some businesses, such as Saraya Nairobi Kitchen Lab, a fully-equipped commercial kitchen for hire, the pandemic was a wakeup call for innovation and creativity.

The establishment provides kitchen spaces, a sitting area and food processing equipment for food handlers and entrepreneurs.  

Three restaurants at a go

I have visited the premises, located on the ground floor of Marsabit Plaza on Ngong Road three times.

On my first and second visit, I was attending a cocktail and a music concert respectively.

It is on my third visit that I got to actually experience the shared kitchen concept and witnessed three restaurants run their business from there.

One was Kai, the sushi bar, and two others, served Kenyan meals run by chefs Don and Eric.

When you enter the premises, you are given menus from all the restaurants from which you can order. 

As my meal was being prepared, I had a chance to have a talk with Michael Guantai, Saraya’s sales officer to get more insight on the concept. 

“The kitchen aims to be an incubator for entrepreneurs who want to start their career in the food industry and offer space for already established restaurants and chefs who want to diversify their locations.

They also assist upcoming chefs learn how to run their kitchens at a cheaper cost and make profits while at it,” he said.  

If a client wants to hire the kitchen, Michael says they will need a valid food handler’s certificate for their chef, which costs Sh1,000 and is valid for six months.

The establishment then takes care of everything else, including water bills, electricity, utensils, equipment, gas, rent, among others.

The only other thing a client would need to carry is their ingredients and the kitchen can accommodate up to 10 people. 

Charges per hour

When the client does their booking, they receive a checklist to confirm everything is working.

They also have their own delivery list for ingredients they bring in to ensure it is fit for consumption.

At the end of their ‘shift,’ there is another checklist to confirm everything has been left in good and working condition. 

Saraya Nairobi Kitchen Lab charge Sh3,000 per hour to use the kitchen and Sh3,000 for the restaurant.

Booking the kitchen or the restaurant for four hours comes at a discounted cost of Sh10,000 instead of Sh12,000.

Any other long-term bookings can be negotiated depending on availability. They also do food processing for fish, pepper, or any other food product at Sh1,500 per hour or Sh5,000 for four hours. 

Currently they have 10 tables and 40 chairs in their sitting area. Their outside sitting space is perfect for a cocktail party and they allow clients to bring their own drinks.

If you don’t have a chef, they can recommend one for you. Booking the entire space is possible with prior arrangements and availability.

I got to try out meals from all the three restaurants and the portions were worth every dime.

The samosas from Don’s kitchen were to die for, and the ginger and carrot soup were quite delightful too.

Being my first time trying the Japanese cuisine, I really had no much anticipation, but to surprise my taste buds.

I got the classic nigiri platter, which is an assortment of salmon, tuna, red snapper, octopus, squid and prawns.

I really loved the prawns and would definitely order some on my next visit. 

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