Ali Said Mandhry, 33


Few chefs in Kenya have been fortunate enough to earn the celebrity status that Ali has enjoyed over the last decade. He boasts of being the chef who ‘introduced’ Swahili biryani to the world with his YouTube video that has garnered an impressive 1.5 million views since it was uploaded four years ago. This is, however, only the tip of accomplishments.

Ali is the first-ever African chef and media personality to be the official Chevrolet brand ambassador. Ali is Top Five reigning chef of African Cuisine in Africa (Africa Style Daily), he is considered among the Top Male Chefs in Africa by DSTV, and also is Kenya Chefs Global Ambassador.

Away from his international acclaim, Ali develops, writes, and shares his recipes. His current pet subject is healthy eating.

Food has always been a part of his life. While other boys went out to play, young Ali preferred to hang around the kitchen entranced by the magical creations it produced. An unlikely inspiration was his grandfather who went against the grain by stepping into the kitchen to prep his meals. He would encourage Ali to join him to watch cooking shows on television. Ali became a proficient cook at age nine and was running a thriving cake business at 12.

With an evident passion, Chef Ali caught the eye of a hospitality guru. The budding chef got the chance to apprentice at arguably the biggest resort in East Africa. Hard work yielded yet a bigger career stepping stone into what was the region’s most prestigious culinary arts institution. As soon as he finished his secondary education, Ali was recommended as Sarova’s apprentice choice into Kenya Utalii College at only 18 years. He did not squander this opportunity and graduated with honours three years later.

The turning point of his career followed after the principal of Utalii called on the culinary prodigy to return to his alma mater as a lecturer. Soon after, aged only 23, Ali invited a cooking showdown in the US where he would return with the revered International Hall of Fame Award thanks to his African artifacts-inspired creation that stunned the judges.

For all his achievements, Ali underscores the value of mentors in a man’s life.

The chef has not rested on his laurels expanding his horizon into entrepreneurship as well as being a trailblazer in the digital space. So alive is his content with enviable social media following that Ali is one of the most sought-after brand ambassadors.

Thorne Mulli