Executive chef Treasure Makwanise delves deep into the history of Rwandan cuisine to bring his guests a fresh, modern take on a traditional menu. In the kitchens of One&Only Nyungwe House, he is inspired by Rwanda’s rich heritage and local ingredients to create exciting recipes and delicious dishes
Zimbabwean-born Treasure Makwanise’s reputation precedes him. His story is a one of resilience and determination, his journey taking him from living on the streets of Cape Town as a teenager, to being welcomed into the kitchens at One&Only Cape Town. Here, he launched his career in the culinary arts, first as a steward and rapidly climbed the ranks under his mentor, the chef and restaurateur Jason Miller, until Treasure’s current role as executive chef at One&Only Nyungwe House.
Chef Makwanise says, “Before a guest checks in, we find out all of their dietary requirements, and when they arrive, I will personally ensure nothing has been missed. We then create daily menus based on the freshest available produce with dishes that each celebrate the local ingredients. I’m passionate about working with my dedicated team and being creative. That’s what I love about One&Only Nyungwe House: it gives us the opportunity to invent new dishes, sauces and infusions every day.”
The chef’s garden at One&Only Nyungwe House started small, and has now expanded to around 100 square-metres. “We are in the middle of the forest with a huge landscape, so why not plant all of our own produce? At the moment around 30 per cent of our produce come from the garden depending on the season including lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, asparagus, onions, micro-herbs, leeks, beetroot, radish, broccoli, cauliflower, dodo (local spinach) and potatoes. We’ve also started a project with chickens, so we have our own eggs. We used to have goats as I really wanted to make our own goats’ cheese, but they were so naughty and ate my garden!,” says the chef.
Part of his role is to dig deep into the roots of Rwandan food and share it with our guests. Dishes like agatago, using plantain with a protein like fish or chicken are popular, as is cooking pumpkin leaves in a house-made peanut sauce. “We make our own peanut butter – we have lots of locally-grown nuts in Rwanda, which is incredible. We are creating a big open kitchen where our guests can learn different skills such as making peanut butter and tea-infused butters. I use a lot of tea from our plantations in our cooking and the results are amazing. Tea adds a hint of bitterness; everyone needs to try our tea pesto and tea pasta with a parmesan foam and roasted almonds – eat it once and you’ll never forget it, “ he points out.
Chef Makwanise’s irresistible signature dish is the Nyungwe green goddess pasta. Handmade pasta is infused with tea and dressed in a novel tea leaf pesto, topped with parmesan foam, and served with locally sourced green beans, peas, and spinach. An original recipe by him, it’s an inimitable taste of Rwanda.
Courtesy: One&Only Nyungwe House