It’s a long journey from Nairobi’s Eastlands to Arsenal’s Colney training ground in London, UK. But its a journey Bernice Kariuki, a first-team chef with the Premier League leaders, succeeded in.
Besides her work at Arsenal, Kariuki has been a chef for highly-rated upmarket hotels in the UK, and has prepared meals for numerous high-profile clients. Kariuki was born and raised in Jericho, a neighborhood in Eastlands. She attended local schools up to high school.
She was passionate about cooking and eventually secured an opportunity to study Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College – one of the largest further education colleges in London.
The institution describes itself as the “UK’s leading school of hospitality & culinary arts.” It trains industry professionals including chefs, waiters and waitresses, bar staff and catering and bar managers.
Having proved her prowess in the kitchen, Kariuki went on to secure opportunities with high-end hotels including The Lanesborough, The Dorchester and The Waldorf Hilton London.
She landed the role as a private, first-team chef at Arsenal after making Pilau – an East African dish – for Chelsea striker Pierre Emerick Aubameyang at a Christmas party. Aubameyang loved it and, as they interacted, connected her with the club to have her as his private chef.
As a first team chef, her role entails, among other duties, preparing appropriate meals for technical staff and star players at the club, including those recovering from injuries or maintaining new nutrition and fitness plans, and preparing menus for travelling teams.
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On social media, mostly Instagram, she shares images of some of her works – stunning meals drawing from different international cuisines.
Kariuki is also part of the Kenyan community in the United Kingdom and has been pictured at various events, including alongside Manoah Esipisu – Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. Esipisu has previously described her as ‘trailblazing and embodying the Kenyan ‘can do’ spirit.’
At one forum, she urged Kenyans in the country to focus on their dreams and to overcome hurdles that stand in their way.
“When I win we all win…we all have challenges. It’s not easy, we need to push because we are in a better country where you can become who you want. Don’t say kuna racism (there’s racism). No, no, no – you can become who you want,” she maintained.
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