Food and family is all I care about

Monday November 19 2018

Eduardo Frausto Cornish

Eduardo Frausto Cornish is Kigali Marriot’s executive chef. PHOTO | PHOTO | JEFFERSON RUMANYIKA  

By JEFFERSON RUMANYIKA
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Eduardo Frausto Cornish, 43, was born in Puebla, Mexico.

He grew up around food because his grandmother and mother were good cooks and the extended family always came together for meals.

At the age of 16, while still a student, he got his first job as a waiter at a restaurant. Even after moving to Cancun, he found himself working in restaurants and that is when he decided to get formal training in the culinary arts.

He joined the Culinary Institute of Mexico for an undergraduate degree in gastronomy and later a Masters in F&B from the same university.

As the executive chef of the Kigali Marriott Hotel, one of the premier five-star restaurants in Rwanda, Mr Cornish works 12 hours a day.

His daily schedule aside, he says his mission is to serve quality food that impresses his guests and makes them come back for more. Wherever he goes, he aims to build the best team – inventive and capable of delivering delicacies that dazzle.

He has worked in 10 countries including France, America, Egypt, Qatar and China, with over 20 years experience. He credits his culinary knowledge to working in the most influential kitchens around the world.

Before joining the Kigali Marriott as its executive chef, he worked for the Marriott International for 12 years. His last assignment was at the Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel.

Mr Cornish is married with three children.

His wife is from South Africa and he is happy that he is learning new cultures and new flavours.

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What made you realise you wanted to work in the food industry?

I started working in the food industry as a waiter when I was a 16-year-old student in my home state of Puebla in Mexico. My grandmother and mother were very good cooks and so I was naturally drawn to food. I later moved to Cancun and realised that my path was gravitating towards the culinary arts.

Where did you train?

After waiting tables in Puebla, I decided to study culinary arts in Mexico City and later France, Belgium and Switzerland. My bachelor’s degree was in gastronomy and my master’s degree in food and beverage administration.

Who is the person you admire the most in the food industry?

The late American chef Anthony Bourdain.

What do you like most about being a chef?

The travelling and learning new cultures and flavours. I have lived and worked in 10 countries, experiencing and learning something new in each country.

How would you describe your food?

Perfection. As an executive chef, I am very eclectic since I have worked in different countries and I tend to combine different types of techniques from different types of cuisines.

What are the three essential cookbooks on your shelf?

I’m a huge collector of books. I have this book called 150 Mediterranean Recipes by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow that has recipes from the shores of Spain to North Africa. The other two are European Cooking by Sonia Allison and Joys of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer and Ethan Becker.

What is the one ingredient or recipe that you struggled to master and how did you overcome the challenge?

I have never been a good pastry chef. That’s why I have an excellent pastry chef now. I am still mastering the South African braai (barbecue) since my wife is South African and whenever her friends come from South Africa they always have a braai.

Do you have a secret hobby?

Gardening. I have a big garden at home where I plant cauliflowers, tomatoes, carrots and cabbage.

What inspires you?

My family. It is large and when we gather for a meal we create amazing experiences and when I cook for them, I try to honour all the different origins and traditions of my family.

How do you unwind after work?

By going to the gym, visiting family friends and having a braai. When I am not at the hotel working, I visit local restaurants like the Pan-China and Kiseki.

What is the most exciting thing you have worked on this year?

Every day is exciting for me since I host different people each day and every day I host important people.

What is your funniest kitchen incident?

I don’t know if you would find it funny, but once when I was cooking fish fingers, I accidentally put my three fingers in the deep fryer.

What has been your biggest kitchen disaster?

It happened on my day off years ago at a hotel I worked in. There was a gas leak that caused an explosion. They was also one time when we were outside catering at an event and expected 200 people but 1,000 showed up. We had to improvise.

What is your favourite kitchen scar?

I cut off half of my little finger while chopping onions.

What is your guilty pleasure snack?

I love Nachos with guacamole while I am watching TV.

What were your three best meals this year?

A crayfish seafood pasta by our Italian chef, Giovanni; seafood with chalupas and chapulines (Mexican grasshoppers) with garlic and tortillas which I had in Mexico in January, and the third is when we made tacos, burritos and barbecue for farmers on Umuganda Day as part of our CSR initiative.

What is your go-to food after a long day?

A beef burger.

What food do you crave?

A traditional Mexican chicken sandwich called a Cemita Poblana. It is a Puebla-styled sandwich.

Is there food that you are secretly obsessed with having at home?

Yes, I love having a braai over the weekend.

What is your most memorable meal?

My grandmother’s chicharron (fried pork belly) with salsa verde at family meals when I was growing up. We would all sit around the table with the extended family and enjoy. The food can be perfect but more important is having people you love around you.

If you would cook for and dine with anyone in the world, who would that be?

My father. He passed away about 20 years ago. He was not very happy with my decision to be a chef but I imagine that he would have been happy to see what I have achieved.

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