Ngala Tented Camp is located on the banks of the River Timbavati, close to the western boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Luxurious Magazine’s Gina Baksa caught up with the most important man in camp.
LM: What qualities does a head chef need to be successful?
CD: To fulfil the needs of each guest and the company, and to always be willing to go the extra mile.
LM: Which foods do you especially love?
CD: Braai (BBQ) out in the bush – the fire and surroundings are a treat in itself.
LM: Describe some of the dishes guests can expect to savour.
CD: On the barbeque, we prepare a kudu loin marinated in papaya, coriander, honey and soy, as well as a peri-peri flat chicken and, of course, the traditional pap and wors (mealie meal porridge and spicy sausage).
Guests can always expect to be served a wide variety of food. There are always two options for lunch and dinner, ranging from beef and lamb to local trout, rolled salmon, avocado Ritz, cucumber mousse with iced gazpacho, sticky ribs
LM: How do you test the quality of your ingredients?
CD: We always choose local suppliers who give us fresh provenance. It’s essential you know your supplier and where the food comes from.
LM Where did you work before Ngala Tented Camp?
CD: I started at Londolozi Game Reserve at Sabi Sands, then moved on to Ngala Safari Lodge, also spending time at many other andBeyond lodges.
LM: How do you spend your free time?
CD: I take a nap or work on my herb garden. Otherwise, you can find me watching my best team, Kaizer Chiefs (a South African soccer team), also known as Amakhosi.
LM: What made you decide to become a chef?
CD: My mother always thought that it was important for all her children, whether boys or girls, to take part in all the household chores, from cleaning to cooking, so that’s where I learned to cook as a young boy. At Londolozi I worked as a waiter. One day help was needed in the kitchen and I helped out. After that the head chef pulled me out of my position as a waiter to join the kitchen team. I wasn’t happy at first, but amazing opportunities have opened up for me from that.
LM: Describe the wine list at Ngala Tented Camp
CD: We have a pretty extensive list of house wines. The reds include merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinotage and shiraz. We have sauvignon blanc and chardonnay for whites and also have a rosé. These have all been picked to suit the dishes that we prepare.
LM: What makes Ngala Tented Camp so special?
CD: The type and style of the food that we do is unique.
LM: What are your professional and personal goals for the coming year?
CD: I am the Executive Chef for andBeyond and I’m based at Ngala Tented Camp. Phinda Homestead is a sole-use safari lodge that also belongs to andBeyond. It is always ahead of all the South Africa lodges when it comes to food scores. So my aim is to break their record and become number one. I have come second in the last few months, so I am working on winning – that will make me very happy.
Ngala Tented Camp – Where and How?
andBeyond operates 33 lodges and camps in six African countries, as well as India. They also design personalised luxury safaris in 15 African countries, as well as arranging bespoke tours in India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Chile and Argentina.
Instagram: @andbeyondsafari and @andbeyondrangers
Kruger National Park: www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/ Facebook: Andrew Nicholson Wildlife Photography
About Gina Baksa