I hardly think of four-legged domestic animals — goats, sheep, cows — as food. But this view was challenged recently by a friend who introduced me to Chefkile restaurant. I could call it a spot of beef heaven, but maybe I am getting ahead of myself.
So I visited the place three times. I have never tasted barbecue like what Kile Aminieli makes and serves at the restaurant, located in Mbezi Beach in Dar es Salaam. For the “Beef Only” order, the tender steak arrives on short thick bones, easily peeling off.
I sat with Kile and asked when his affair with food started. “If it’s in you, you will feel it all the time. Growing up I knew I liked food, but probably the hint that it was more than that came in the rare times when I was allowed as a boy to cook for the family. Their appreciation was big, which solidified my passion for food.”
The business is officially registered as Chef Kile Barbeque Delicacy, and is a partnership between five people.
Before venturing into the restaurant business, Kile worked for various telecom companies in Tanzania for five years as a consultant in search engine optimisation and graphic design.
However, his passion for food gnawed at him and finally in 2008 he had saved up enough money to study how to cook online, practising in his own kitchen, for two years. He visited Dar’s food industry, thus carving a niche for his restaurant.
During his incubation, he would invite friends over the weekend for a barbecue tasting. This developed a tradition that saw his friends chipping in to buy the ingredients. Some of these friends are his partners in the business that employs more than 25 people.
“It’s not that we don’t cook anything else apart from beef,” Kile says.
On my three visits to the restaurant, I also tasted the “AhAhChicken” from the menu, a must-have for chicken lovers. I also sampled a pizza that Kile was perfecting to add to the menu. The pizza was delicious — the cheese was oozing, the meat tender, and the condiments fresh.
On my first two visits I was part of a group among whom was an engaged couple looking to source ChefKile’s to provide the dessert for their wedding meal. I got a taste of what Kile had prepared for them — strawberry crumble fresh from the oven, with ice cream.
The strawberries, sourced from Lushoto district in Tanga region, were well represented in the dish.
My advice to the establishment is to ground Kile in the kitchen. He walks around too much, overlooking the entirety of the business as though he is not in an efficient partnership.
The popularity of the restaurant depends on Kile holding his kitchen staff down so that each customer leaves feeling like I did, a queen.