A week ago today I was invited by Jameson to attend the East FM Koroga Premier League finale. The East FM KPL is basically a cook-off marathon held over several weeks where teams knock each other out to get to the finale held at Mystique Gardens.
A week ago today it was HOT in Nairobi. I mean peak equinox or whatever it was that made Nairobi feel like we were inches away from the sun.
A week ago today I was “fashionably” (two hours) late to the East FM KPL and when I got there it was bustling. There was music, drummers, people running in and out of bandas while others bent over hot sufurias caramelizing onions and stirring curries. When I got over to the Jameson banda they explained that the cooking had started about an hour ago and each team was given an hour and a half to create their dishes. Everyone had to make a rice dish, an egg dish, and a curry.
The sponsor teams: Jameson, Bidco, Sport Pesa, and Alpha Fine Foods were competing in a separate league from the other four presenter teams.
Two hours late turned out to be just in time to walk around with the judges as teams plated up their meals. Teams were judged on their food, their presentation and the decor of their bandas. Some teams went all out with their decor. I mean check out DJ Deshal’s banda!
I couldn’t taste the other teams food but I could smell it and it smelled GOOD. Each team had a unique take on the dishes that needed to be made and after making it through several rounds of the East FM KPL, they were seasoned chefs working as a well-oiled machine.
I ran back to the Jameson banda to alert the team that their competitors were pulling out all the stops. We had to step up our game. Just then, Yvonne, Jameson’s secret weapon and resident bartender showed up. She was immediately put to work to give their meal that extra wow factor with a classic Jameson cocktail, the Jamie Ginger.
As the Jameson team put their final touches on their meal, I continued my walk around the venue. That’s when I came across the Holi powder. The vibrant colours drew me in like a fly to a bright light. I was so excited to put some on me that I didn’t stop to think “why would you have holi at a Koroga?”.
After about an hour, the judges had tasted everyones food. The presenter called all participants to the main area for a dance off. The Jameson team was the last team to be called to dance. I was quickly grabbed to participate and when it was over and the cheering erupted, the water began. Out of nowhere, people pulled out water guns and fistfuls of Holi and were throwing it at each other as the drummers picked up their pace. Jacquie and I ran for cover as we watched colourful smoke fill the air.
We had cooked (I use “we” liberally), we had eaten, we had danced, and now, we had to get judged.
The music died down and the water fight stopped (save for that one kid who decided to soak me after the truce had been called). The presenter took the stage to thank everyone for coming and for the sponsors for their contribution to the overall prizes. The winners were announced from fourth place to first. First place sponsors went to no other than team Jameson!
First place presenter team went to DJ Deshal and his team. They won hampers from Raka Cheese, Bidco, and Alpha Fine Foods as well as a cheque for ksh 200,000 courtesy of Sport Pesa!
As hot as it was, this was an energy-filled event. As we wrapped up the day I wished I had attended the cook offs leading up to the finale. Anyone can come and be a part of it. East FM announces where they’ll be on social media ahead of time!
It was such a fun day filled with great people, lots of laughs, and as always, great food.
All photos courtesy of J. Mwai Photography