Food glorious food, such an integral part of our lives. Good food is enjoyed most in times of leisure, and on safari is no exception. It’s no surprise that Best Safari Cuisine has always been one of the most prominent categories in the Safari Awards. Judged on how and where the food is cooked and where its served the 2016 nominees are proving to be tough competition.
Locally sourced fresh ingredients, a special dining atmosphere and catering for all types of palates come as standard ingredients from these sizzling eight nominees, but they’ve added a sprinkling of their own secret spice and turned up the heat!
Kaya Mawa, Malawi
Secret spice: The exec chef Richard Greenhall used to work in one of Jamie Oliver’s Restaurants.
Produce is as far as possible locally sourced with some being grown in their own gardens. All the cooks are local. They all started for Kaya when it was built and for three years did nothing but carry sand and rocks. Richard has trained them all to produce the culinary delights that now come out of Kaya’s kitchen. The menu is an eclectic mix of dishes from classics such as beef filet with a red wine jus, dauphinoise potatoes and garden vegetables to a Cape Malay fish curry using local catch of the day and Rich’s passion for Indian and Thai spices. Rich is working on his first recipe book after numerous requests from guests.
Chui Lodge, Kenya
Secret spice: Their artist gallery dining room, lounge and bar feature pillars and murals with intricate African Carvings, African antiques and ochre-colored walls, making their tastefully prepared local, exotic and international cuisine even more pleasurable.
Catering features an array of five star and much talked about international cuisine with many ingredients sourced locally including vegetables, fruits and dairy products from their own farm. A tepinyaki hot plate caters for those who would like something different. Chui Lodge has gained an international reputation for having some of the best food in Kenya. This is as a result of guests being actively involved with what they wish to eat and when.
Tongole Wilderness Lodge, Malawi
Secret spice: All their exceptional chefs are trained in house, these are local people who all live just outside the reserve the majority of which have not had any college training.
Tongole Wilderness Lodge pride themselves in providing guests with fresh, delicious food. Being situated in the middle of Nkoktahota Wildlife Reserve it is an hour and thirty minutes journey just to get to the local shop, a trip to the supermarket takes three and a half hours each way. As one guest commented ‘We have no idea how you manage to produce such excellent food in this isolated environment! Their ethos: to make their fine dining experience as Malawian in produce as possible whilst supporting their local community. The produce sourced from the villagers surrounding the reserve serves as the back bone of their menus such as ground nuts replace other nuts in their recipes giving their food a Malawian twist, their tomato jamgets many compliments and ufa (malawians staple diet) is used in cakes, starters and main courses.
Chem Chem Tanzania
Secret spice: Healthy ingredients – soul food straight out of the African bush.
Try out the Moringa leaf powder as an energy booster– free of any sugars! The leaves of Moringa Oleifera are nature’s multi-vitamin providing seven times the vitamin C of oranges, four times the calcium of milk, four times the vitamin A of carrots, three times the potassium of bananas, and twice the protein of yogurt. Who said being on safari is not a healthy holiday?! Chem Chem has a strong commitment towards a holistic and organic kitchen. Tanzania’s 12-month season of exceptional produce makes it easy to always have the best organic fresh fruit and vegetables available.
Spices are the heart and soul of any Tanzanian dish. Chem Chem’s chefs are masters at using these spices to create unforgettable flavours.
The local rice grown in the nearby neighborhood gives Chem Chem access to Tanzania’s best! Still planted and harvested in the traditional way, Magugu Rice is long and thick and carries a delicious perfume, perfect for Chem Chem’s curry and risotto dishes.
Baobab is a powerhouse of minerals and Vitamin C, it has detoxing abilities and helps control cholesterol.
Chem Chem Safaris lifestyle credo: ‘Food is a large part of the safari experience. It is during the dining experience, such as a bush-breakfast or a starry-sky-dinner, guests exchange their amazing experiences gathered out in the bush. These moments are needed to sit down & fully reflect what was lived through – for this very reason our chefs ensure every meal served enhances the unique and precious time spent in the African wilderness.’
Sirikoi’s organic garden, is George and his team’s pride and joy where they propagate, plant, fertilise and sow fruit, vegetables and salad throughout the year. Planted according to the annual number of guests forecast, the wonderful soil and ample irrigation ensures there is always an array of vegetables for the Sirikoi table.
Catering challenges, what catering challenges, Sirikoi always rises to the occasion, ‘Over the past week alone, the kitchen has been challenged with meeting the requirements of a vegan, several vegetarians, a large group from Bangalore who requested Indian food for their stay (and generously provided us with their favourite spices and some special tips on South Indian cooking), and someone highly allergic to gluten. There was also a request for kid-friendly food for one family. We’re just heaving a sigh of relief that we managed to please everybody when the planning begins for the week ahead…a sufferer of nut allergies, a lactose-intolerant lady, and someone requiring a fructose-free diet.’, says Sirikoi’s manager.
Chiawa Camp, Zambia
Secret spice: Their signature amarula porridge, homemade chocolates and sorbets. Amarula (Africa’s Baileys) porridge is served at sunrise heated on the coals of the campfire.
Perfect to take the bite or nip off a chilly morning. Other days the porridge might be laced with Jack Daniels or cinnamon and raisin – every day’s an unusual and welcome surprise. Every afternoon fresh handmade chocolates are made, and then served after dinner with a selection of malt whisky, brandy, Port and liqueurs – and/or freshly brewed coffee by the campfire. The home made sorbets and ice creams are a welcome delight either as a palate cleanser or refreshment after a rich meal – a challenge when in October temperatures can exceed 40C / 100F. Not only is Chiawa Camp renowned for its outstanding meals but also the surprise locations where it is served …it’s not only what you eat but where and when which makes the meal memorable. One of the challenges is getting ingredients in, we are in a National Park so nothing can be grown on site, so everything is flown or trucked in. A cool or chiller room in keeps the goods fresh and safe from wild animals who also think the food is delicious at Chiawa!
Camp Kipwe, Namibia
Secret spice: Cuisine crafted to appeal to any palate, be it a sweet tooth, vegetarian, health fan or meat lover. Camp Kipwe’s chefs take pride in their creations and have regular workshops updating them on culinary trends from around the world.
Only the purest seasonal ingredients are used, and prepared in the lodge kitchens every day to serve-up their raved about Southern African – Intercontinental cuisine. All dishes are honest, fresh and delicious, prepared from local fare with a hint of global influence both modern and classical. The cuisine is characterized by a philosophy of innovation through passion and simplicity. Camp Kipwe’s Chef’s take pride in their creations and have regular workshops updating them on culinary trends from around the world.
Secret spice: Award-winning chefs Vincent Senyonga and Fred Bayega, the two head chefs at Wildwaters Lodge, have certainly earned their well-deserved titles of being awarded 1st place & runner up best chefs in Uganda at the “Best Chefs of Uganda” competition this year.
Wildwaters Lodge have certainly earned their well-deserved titles of being awarded number one and number two best chefs in Uganda at the “Best Chefs of Uganda” competition this year. Ensuring only the freshest ingredients go into their dishes, they are innovative and creative with their craft and consistently produce mouth-watering dishes.Long standing favourites: freshly-caught pan-seared tilapia fillets steamed in white wine and served with locally grown carrots, French beans and roast potato and the lemon posset garnished with caramelized citrus zest and served with handmade shortbread.
Which secret spice gets your juices flowing? Voting is now open so vote for your favourite!
More about the Safari Awards
Since their inception in 2008, the Safari Awards have gone from strength to strength and are now regarded as an industry gold standard. With 15,000+ votes and final judging from the best independent safari tour operators in the business the Safari Awards distill the top safari experiences. All The Safari Awards Judges have been nominated by the previous years awards winners and finalists and are unquestionably the most highly-respected, knowledgeable independent tour operators selling safaris.
The judges sit at the head of the Good Safari Guide, ensuring that the lodges, camps and operations presented both in the guides and in the awards really are the best in Africa.
There are 18 categories in the 2016 Safari Awards, including two new categories for Best Location and Best Design.