A CHEF recently left his well-paid job at a popular wedding venue near Cirencester to pursue his dream of opening his own food business.

Lloyd Mbaka decided to quit his job at Cripps Barn four weeks ago in order to take over the kitchen at The Vale Hotel in Cricklade to establish his own barbecue food business.

The brave chef moved to Cricklade a year ago with his family and when the opportunity arose to set up his own business at the hotel he grasped it with both hands.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Lloyd MbakaLloyd Mbaka (Image: Charlie Bailey charliebailey.co.uk)

He decided to name the business Jambo Grill because he was born in Kenya and in his language 'Jambo' translates to 'Hello'.

Lloyd explained: "I wanted a name that would identify me and the person that I am, and Jambo came into my mind.

"You can't say Jambo when you are angry, you have to be smiling."

The chef said although this leap of faith was extremely 'nerve-wrecking' it felt like it was something he had to do.

His fascination with food stems from watching his mother cook on an open fire as a child in Kenya. 

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Lloyd Mbaka in action Lloyd Mbaka in action (Image: Charlie Bailey charliebailey.co.uk)

He said the menu is an 'expression of Lloyd on a plate' and the skills he has cultivated whilst working in kitchens for the last 20 years.

It encompasses a range of starters, sides, barbecue food, Kenyan Hot Pot dishes and desserts. 

One of his favourite dishes to make is the Boga Siagi na Wali - a butternut squash, chickpea, tomato and coconut curry which includes 'chef's secret spices'.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Boga Siagi na Wali - Butternut squash, chickpea and coconut curry with riceBoga Siagi na Wali - Butternut squash, chickpea and coconut curry with rice (Image: Charlie Bailey charliebailey.co.uk)

Lloyd said: "The last few weeks have been nerve-wrecking, it's one of those things where you feel the fear.

"I was in a very well-paid job and everybody thought I was mad to leave, but to me it is not just a job.

"I have been walking in kitchens for last 20 years and to me being a chef is a lifestyle.

"The Jambo Grill menu shows the chef I have become.

"It is a way of expressing myself and of showing people who Lloyd is on a plate.

"I think that is what has given me the courage to quit my job.

"I still pinch myself everyday and think, is this real?

"I want everyone to enjoy the food and the environment and to walk out of the front door and say 'wow'."

All the photographs in the article were taken by Charlie Bailey.