Meet Kenyan chef who cooks for Rashford, Onana and co at Manchester United

© Milton Isalano Instagram/Manoah Esipisu X.

FOOTBALL Meet Kenyan chef who cooks for Rashford, Onana and co at Manchester United

Joel Omotto 07:00 - 21.02.2024

Manchester United players have been digging into meals prepared by a Vihiga-born Kenyan chef who has been working at the club for nearly two decades.

For nearly 20 years now, Kenyan chef Milton Isalano has been preparing meals for Manchester United stars.

Isalano started working with the Premier League giants in 2005 when legendary manager Si Alex Ferguson was still in charge and has maintained his position through the eras of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and now Erik ten Hag.

With diet now an important component of the player’s regime, those preparing their meals have to be highly skilled professionals and Isalano is one of them.

He got his training at Kenya Utalii College and Kenya Polytechnic before moving to the United Kingdom and between 2004 and 2006, he acquired a Chef’s Diploma at Lancaster and Morecambe College before pursuing a BA in Hospitality Management at Salford University in 2012.

“I am a Kenyan former Pioneer Senior Chef at the Windsor Golf and Country Club, in Nairobi from 1991 to 2002 before I moved to the United Kingdom as a chef. I have been working at Manchester United as a senior chef since 2005 to date,” the Vihiga-born chef told Bizna Kenya last year.

Working at a Premier League club is no mean feat, everything has to be meticulously planned to fit into the needs of the players and on matchday, the job becomes bigger due to the big number of fans.

Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium has a capacity of over 75,000 people, meaning besides serving the players, the chefs are also required to prepare meals for fans who sample what’s on offer at the club’s restaurant.

To meet this need, therefore, United have 26 kitchens, and on a matchday, 120 chefs are required.

Isalano is one of the senior chefs at the club and his experience has earned him other high-profile jobs in Manchester.

“In 2010-2014, I was the head chef of VIP Escape Lounges at Manchester Airport in terminals one, two, and three. Any time the first Manchester United team and Manchester City football teams flew out of the country, I served them in the lounges before they boarded the plane,” added the Kenyan, who has also served celebrities such as X-factor star Simon Cowell.

While he has largely gone under the radar, Isalano’s work has put him in the spotlight and was recognised by Kenya’s High Commissioner to the UK Manoah Esipisu during the Kenya and Friends in the Park event which brought together Kenyans in the UK in London last July.

“Another Kenyan Chef doing great. Bumped into Milton Isoyi, Man United chef at the #KenyainthePark event in North London. Great event serving great connections amongst Kenyan Diaspora,” Esipisu posted on social media.

Isalano is now the second known Kenyan chef to have worked at a top Premier League club after Bernice Kariuki, who left Arsenal last year, having served as a private chef for the Gunners for two years.

Kariuki had been cooking for Arsenal players and management and also managed the daily well-being and nutrition of the team before and after matches.

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