Best Chef & Winning Recipe

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Levi Kato at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth

Levi Kato, 36, who won at Gorilla Highlands Silverchef 2016, wanted to be an accountant. But when he went to inquire about studying that he befriended a man from Soroti, Ariano Francis. Francis was from a family with strong connections to Uganda Wildlife Authority and opened Levi’s eyes: tourism was the industry with biggest potential.

Levi Kato of Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby BluthAfter completing his studies in tourism and hotel management, Kato got his first job at Kadio Motel in Kabale in 2003, then moved on to Highland Hotel. He heard about Jonathan Wright’s initiative to train community members around Nkuringo, the location of Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, and as Levi was from nearby Rubuguri he easily qualified.

He experienced work at the highest levels of cooking, at Emin Pasha in Kampala, at Apoka Lodge in Kidepo and Pineapple Bay on Lake Victoria, but only truly found his place when he was given the head position at Clouds in 2015. Now he wasn’t slowed down by other chefs anymore and his cooking expression could blossom.

“People say ‘Your chef is so creative!’,” says Levi proudly. Nicknamed “Silverback” for his impressive size, he still isn’t the boss or the manager of his kitchen, he is the resident artist. He tries all kinds of things and enjoys when the manager brings him new recipes or finds them himself in newspapers. Unlike many other cooks, this is not only a job for him, it is a passion. “Food is life,” he says.

But when he gets home, he only cooks stews. He finds the ingredients he uses at the job expensive and his baby too young for fancy food. However, he plans to expose her to that too, of course!

Levi Kato is an enthusiastic football player and will show you his hard-working hands if he returns from his off a little late; digging needs to be done as well.



Levi Kato's exotic salad at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth

Salad ingredients:
600g of pineapple
1 whole avocado
500g of watermelon
300g of ripe tomatoes
2 bundles of cos lettuce

Salad preparation:
Peel the pineapple, watermelon, avocado and cut them into even sized cubes.
Cut tomatoes into wedges.
Clean thoroughly with clean water and drain with paper towels and put a side.

Levi Kato at work at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth

Dressing ingredients:
Lemon juice of 2 lemons
2 egg yolks (yellow)
1 tea spoon of English mustard
300ml olive oil
salt and pepper

Dressing preparation:
Get a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, lemon juice and English mustard.
Add olive oil as you whisk constantly (slowly as your pour olive oil).
When the dressing becomes thick add more lemon juice.
Add salt and pepper to taste.


Levi Kato's chicken ballotine with masked potatoes; photo by Abby Bluth

Chicken ballotine ingredients:
800g chicken breasts
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
1 tablespoon olive oil
30g parmesan cheese
100g cashew nuts toasted
1 bundle basil
1 bundle green parsley
1 bundle coriander
300ml olive oil
4 eggs
bread crumbs
salt and pepper

Chicken ballotine preparation:
Marinate chicken in a bowl with garlic soy sauce, chopped coriander, olive oil, salt and pepper and put aside.
Blend cashew nuts, basil, parsley and coriander. Add oilve oil and blend to make a pesto.
Get chicken breasts and flaten them using tenderising hammer.
Smear the green pesto on the flattened chicken breast, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and roll it in form of a sausage.
Wrap the chicken into a cling film and tighten it on both ends to make sure that water doesn’t enter the chicken and boil until ready.
Remove the chicken from boiling water, unwrap it and pass it into beaten eggs and bread crumbs.
Fry until golden brown and serve.

Levi Kato cooking at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth

Mashed potatoes ingredients:
500g of Irish potatoes peeled and cut into cubes
1 big onion chopped
30ml of clean milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Mashed potatoes preparation:
Boil the potatoes, add chopped onion, salt and pepper.
When ready, remove boiling water and mash with olive oil and cream and serve hot.

Mixed vegetables ingredients:
80g carrots peeled and chopped into cubes
40g green peppers chopped into cubes
20g onions chopped into cubes
1/2 head of cauliflower chopped
1 bundle fresh beans
40g tomatoes chopped
1 teaspoon tossed cumin grounded
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons fresh cream.
2 tablespoons oil
garlic crushed
salt and pepper

Portrait of Levi Kato at Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth
Mixed vegetables preparation:
Put the frying pan on fire until hot. Add oil, crush garlic until brown, add onions and other chopped vegetables. Turn occasionally until ready.
Add cumin, turmeric, fresh cream, salt, pepper and serve.

Hollandaise sauce ingredients:
3 egg yolks (yellow)
250g salted butter melted
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 table spoon white vinegar
salt and pepper

Levi Kato with the winning dish at Gorilla Highlands Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby BluthHollandaise sauce preparation:
Put egg yolks into a double boiling bowl.
Add melted butter as you whisk constantly (not on very hot fire).
When it gets thicker, remove from double boiling and add white vinegar and fresh herbs (parsley).

Green Ruzzular sauce ingredients:
3 bundles green parsley trimmed and branched in hot water
1 bundle green spinach trimmed and branched in hot water
1 bundle coriander
130ml of milk

Green Ruzzular sauce preparation:
Blend brunched persley, spinach, coriander and milk until smooth.
Remove from the blender and strain the mixture using conical strainer.
Put the pan on fire, add strained mixture, salt and papper to taste.

text: Miha Logar; recipe: Levi Kato; photo: Abby Bluth