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From Rugby Star to Best TikToker in Africa – Dennis Ombachi’s Come-Up

"Coming from sports, I have won a couple of medals, but there is a different feeling that this one has."

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Former rugby star turned the internet’s favorite chef, food content creator Dennis Ombachi (otherwise known as The Roaming Chef) was this weekend crowned as the overall winner at TikTok’s inaugural Top Creator Awards for Sub-Saharan Africa.

The award show hosted in Nairobi saw content creators from across the continent recognized for their work on the Bytedance-owned platform. As a rugby sevens player, Ombachi competed for Kenya at the 2016 Summer Olympics and was a member of the squad that competed at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia.

But it is on TikTok, creating food content, that he became an international sensation.

He acknowledged his growth while receiving his latest award, stating: “Coming from sports, I have won a couple of medals, but there is a different feeling that this one has.”

Ombachi, who has previously opened up on being diagnosed with bipolar, has explained in past interviews that he got into cooking as a way to avoid spiraling mentally, distracting himself with various flavors. He cites famous TV chef Gordon Ramsay as one of his biggest inspirations.

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He also explained that traveling around the world as part of the Kenya Sevens team offered him a chance to explore cuisines from around the world.

“My cooking journey started way back when I used to play rugby for Kenya and travelling all the time in different countries and seeing different cuisines and different recipes,” he stated.

“I started following new YouTube videos from British chef Gordon Ramsey. He unknowingly mentored me to cooking,” Ombachi notes.

Ombachi, who says he cooks every day for his family, started sharing his recipes online in 2021. They quickly caught on and were shared across different social media platforms, with his catchphrase ‘Done’ even becoming a meme in itself. His content has been featured on countless platforms from around the world, and Ombachi himself has worked with several major brands on sponsored content.

“I already dedicated this award to my kids and partners but this is for Kenya,” Ombachi stated after earning the Top Creator gong.

Ombachi stated that in 2023, he looked forward to creating more content – stating that consistency was one of the biggest challenges he faces as a creator.

“I hope I will give you more content this year since I struggle with consistency,” Ombachi admitted

“It is hard and many times, I don’t feel like doing it. If I can manage to record every food I cook, I would have content every day, but I record only four times a month,” he added.

Boniswa Sidwaba, TikTok’s head of content programming in Sub-Saharan Africa, hailed creators including Ombachi for setting digital trends.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating our creators who have been a driving force behind some of the exciting trends for 2022. With these inaugural awards, TikTok aims to give creators in Sub-Saharan Africa the recognition they deserve and to encourage them to tell the African story while spreading joy at all times,” she stated.

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