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Irene Cheptap Oret Age, the Kenyan Facebook Food Celebrity

Irene cheptap Oret Age
Written by Teresa Mwangi

Irene Cheptap Oret Age is now a famous name in Kenya’s social media circles, thanks to her passion for cooking that birthed her cloud catering brand Afrikan Eats.

At 29, the African Eats founder and director (real name Irene Jepkogei) is happy that her cooking passion built her an empire. Tragically though, her life’s dream was to study medicine and become a doctor. Today though, she is a celebrated chef.

Who is Irene Cheptap Oret Age?

Cheptap is a Kenyan food enthusiast. She is the sixth-born in a family of eight children from Narok County. Her dream as a teenager was to become a doctor but the death of her father in 2008 changed all this. He succumbed to throat cancer and left the duty of raising eight kids to his wife.

Life wasn’t easy for the family as her mother, at some point, resorted to selling illicit brew to raise her children.

I recall how my mother at some point resorted to selling local brews to be able to provide for us. Life was difficult, every night a nightmare and waking up to patrons coming to buy illicit alcohol was very traumatising. Questions always lingered in my mind, ‘Is life this tough to all, and was I born to witness my family ruining people and families with alcohol?’” she told Nation in an interview.

Irene Cheptap Oret Age

Irene Cheptap Oret Age. Photo/Irene Chetap/Facebook

Her mother’s illicit brewing trade affected her mental health that she started battling insomnia, and anxiety. Constant arrests of her mother by authorities even made it worse. She eventually quit this business and started farming.

With her father’s death, her lowest moment was her mother had to give away her cow over some school fees she had borrowed from a friend. This was just for her to complete her education.

How Did Irene Cheptap Oriet Age Become a Facebook Food Celebrity?

For most Kenyans, Cheptat is their ultimate food celebrity, thanks to the popular Facebook group, Let’s Cook Kenyan Meals. However, getting here was followed by a series of very low moments in her life.

A shop-keeping job after high school shaped her self-taught culinary skills. Cooking for suppliers was a part of her duties as a shopkeeper and it was difficult.  However, she always admired her peers who went to college and it motivated her to prepare better meals. Customer feedback and appreciation.

Then, a friend invited her to the popular ‘Let’s Cook Kenyan’ Facebook group having seen her determination and passion for cooking.  With more eyeballs, she started sharing recipes and photos of her different meals. Gradually, she made her show by winning cooking competitions which opened the doors to meeting her mentor, Chef Otuomo Mwafrika.

With his advice, she saved up and enrolled for a diploma in food and beverage at the East African Institute of Certified Studies. Armed with professional culinary skills, she did an incredible job in the group of always sharing her recipes and a variety of meals. Group members supported her unwaveringly and Irene Cheptap Oret Age became the ultimate ‘Facebook food celebrity’.

How Did African Eats Come About?

Irene cheptap Afrikan eats.

Irene cheptap Oret Age. Photo/Irene Cheptap/Facebook

What is today’s African Eats traces its inception, indirectly though, to 2020. Spending two years in Nairobi – from 2018 – opened up her mind to making a living off her passion. She pulled resources with a few friends and they started cooking and delivering meals to city clients at their homes and offices.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic struck and they shut down. Unfazed by this challenge, Irene Cheptap Oret Age unveiled her cloud cooking brand, Afrikan Eats, and things looked up for her pretty fast.

“I serve corporate customers such as Equity Bank – City Market branch where I deliver breakfast and lunch, besides other offices within town. My food costs Sh200 and above, depending on the choice of food and the location of delivery. On a daily basis, I get more than 50 orders and I always do my best to maintain excellence in delivering what the client ordered,” she says.

Looking at her success so far, the Facebook fraternity makes up her business foundation because she uses the meta platform to market her services. She also encourages people to take up healthy eating by embracing traditional meals. Cheptap also runs an independent Facebook page, ‘Irene Cheptap Oret-Age, Afrikan Eat’ which she also gets clients from.

The 29-year-old’s biggest dream is to open a chain of restaurants in Kenya and internationally. Deep down this ambition is to offer the world a taste of African food.

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About the author

Teresa Mwangi

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, loves travelling and telling stories about tour and travel in Africa by every angle.

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