In 1982, we bought a house in Nairobi and moved to this bustling metropolis to fulfill our dream of opening a restaurant of our own. After a few
month as an Executive chef at the 5 star Serena Hotel in the center of the town, my wife and I formed Taurus Catering Services Ltd.
Our first attempt to buy a small hotel ended in disaster: a classic sting by a crooked Nairobi lawyer and the seller-cum-accomplice left us over
night penny less. It was a tough beginning, but improvisation keept us going again and we even had a prospering operation before long. Import controls
on many items essential for Hotel kitchens made me devise simple ways to produce replacements with the help of jua kali fundi (the hot sun)
street artisans common in Africa. We made articles like bamboo skewers, piping bags, nozzles, kotelette frills, beautyful bamboo salad tongs, and
many more practical items which we sold to the local Hotels and Supermarkets. Yet the biggest hit became our bamboo toothpicks, first made by hand
by our Maasai watchmen using only a knife!
Taurus Restaurant Interior
When Kenyas only Tooth pick factory closed down, this ended up becoming a major operation employing scores of disabled people, destitute women
and street children. Before long this work force was delivering up to 1 million toothpicks a month, which we sterilized, packaged, and marketed
as 'Taurus Toothpicks'. Business boomed, which in a society of survivors meant the idea was copied very quikly and the market soon became swamped
with other toothpicks sporting names like: Capricorn, Aries, Gemini, Leo, Scorpio, and Pisces!
A historian may one day wonder why in the1980s there were so many toothpicks named after the Zodiac in Kenya and neighbouring countries!
Since, with the proceeds of our little industrie,we had managed to open in 1984 our first Taurus Restaurant, offering a mixture of Balkan food,
Kenyan dishes and the legendary Taurus Burger, I left the field to the many competitors-satified that my idea had evolved into a form of developmend
aid providing a good income to many families.
The first Taurus Restaurant: Interior
Our restaurant, however, relied on only 30 sitting places and a take away section, with no possibility to expand. So we bought a property in a good
area and build the second Taurus, based entirely on my own design and ideas. It consisted of a lush "Nyama Choma" Beer garden, an exclusive
international restaurant, and a rustic Balkan tavern called Gostiona, and a spacious Function Hall sitting 200.
Taurus Restaurant Nairobi
In May 1993 the new Taurus was opened by Dr. Julius Kiano, one of Kenyas longest serving Ministers and a highly respected politician.
The opening was televised, the Minister of Tourism addressing the many guests including the Danish Ambassador and other high profile guests
and clients of our outside catering business.
Taurus Restaurant: Outside Catering
The catering was, in fact, the most important activity I had developed over the years. It was based on a mixture of safari catering, Kenya's
nyama choma tradition, the Union Caterers experience and my observations in Asia. The heart of it was the charcoal grill and front cooking.
Tents and equipment would be of my own designs and partly made in our own workshop.
Nyama Choma from the Charcoal Grill
Amongst our major clients were:
the U.S Embassy
(5 years consecutive catering for
4th of July party for up to 1200
USAID - GTZ - World Bank
Amref - Care - Norad
the Free Masons
Embassies of Denmark, Sweden,
Norway, Austria, Belgium,
Embassy of South Africa
Embassy of Australia
Taurus Restaurant: The Loft Function Hall
Unfortunately, high interest rates (at one stage 38%!) and the leverage of unscrupulous bankers in combination with other factors, including
Kenya's severe economic downturn and inflation of the 1990s resulted in the loss of our business in 1997, and quasi-legal confiscation of
property. We fought by legal means against politically entrenched interests to get it back, but when this led to prospects of my work and
residence permit not being renewed in 1998, I faced a difficult decision. These developments and the educational interests of my children
resulted in our leaving the land which had welcomed me so warmly for over 20 years.