At the Top of Her Game: Chef Asmine Jumanne

At the Top of Her Game: Chef Asmine Jumanne

May 2024

Executive Chef Asmine Jumanne, a true pioneer and one of the first female Executive Sous chefs in Zanzibar, is skilled both at global cuisines and excellent Zanzibari fare.

Asmine joined Breezes Beach Club in 1997 soon after completing college. As a hotel management trainee on the main-land in Dar es Salaam, she worked in all the departments and found she liked the kitchen and restaurant areas best. “This is my dream because I like to work in the kitchen, I like to cook and I wanted to see how restaurants work.”

Born and raised in Dar es Salaam, the commercial city of Tanzania, cooking has been part of Asmine’s life since childhood. Growing up, she liked to experiment in the kitchen. “We have a local basil used as medicine and we used to play with it. I think it was always my dream to become a chef.”

When she joined Breezes Beach Club, Asmine recalls there were only two ladies in the kitchen and they had to work very hard, “even more than the boys,” to prove themselves. The hard work paid off as Asmine steadily rose up the ranks over the years. Starting as a commis-cook, she was promoted to shift leader, chef de partie, junior sous chef, sous chef then Executive Sous Chef.

In between she took professional courses at famous Kenya Utalii College for hospitality in Nairobi and undertook industry attachments at 05-Star Palacina Residences & Suites, Nairobi as well as the Grand Regency Hotel. In October 2022, Asmine was promoted to the position of Executive sous chef at Breezes Beach Club & Spa, the first lady to hold this role and today there are ten women in Asmine’s kitchens. “To become a sous chef takes time and a lot of attention to detail; you have to read many books, have a great feel for ingredients and of course try to be very creative,” she said.

A typical day for Asmine begins with kitchen cleaning “kitchens can never be too clean so washing and sanitizing are second nature to all good chefs” …early morning stock-taking, daily requisitions, and overseeing the breakfast service and staff canteens. “With over 300 colleagues, we have much more staff than we do guests and so it is important that their meals are also excellent and produced punctually so that they are on-time and ready to go and take care of our valuable guests.”

Most ingredients are locally sourced in Zanzibar or the Tanzania mainland and Asmine takes advantage of seasonal produce when planning menus, particularly seafood and fruits. She describes the food at Breezes Beach Club as a mix of international and local dishes. Zanzibar cuisine is of African, Indian and Arabic influences, supported by a rich selection of locally grown spices.

Even when she has specialty Swahili menus or Spice Night dinners, Asmine will have a “live action” pasta station or other familiar items because Breezes guests come from many different countries. She says she has no favourite meals, “because I cook anything and I think it is ‘wow’”. Nevertheless, she recommends that newcomers to Zanzibar try the rice pilau, Swahili chicken in coconut, grilled plantain bananas, and roasted fish “diko diko” coated in a rich onion and tomato sauce.

One of the most memorable experiences was with a guest at Breezes who happened to be a chef at a Michelin-star hotel. “I didn’t know he was a chef and when they left, they wrote us a big letter and said the food here was fantastic,” said Asmin. “Up to now, I have kept that menu that we gave him.”

We welcome you to explore true Zanzibar hospitality at The Zanzibar Collection.

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