Linda van Rensburg, Group Food Experience Manager at Wilderness Safaris, says American and European guests are particularly interested in the culinary aspects of their safari.
“Our guests are well travelled and exposed to amazing restaurant and celebrity chefs through television and social media. They often have access to both quality ingredients and lessons, so they are cooking more at home and show a greater interest in how the food is prepared and where it comes from,” said Van Rensburg.
“Our guests love to try our ethnic or traditional dishes and ingredients so we try to showcase these in dishes. They also love the fresh fruits and vegetables we are able to get in Africa, and of course, our Botswana beef, local venison and ostrich are always a huge hit. Our guests generally love ‘over-the-coals cooking’ because it is done outdoors.”
Another benefit of featuring more local produce on safari menus, is that lodges are able to support neighbouring rural communities and create sustainable economic opportunities for them by buying their produce.
Renzo Bico, aha Hotels & Lodges Group Executive Chef, said: “There is certainly a need to use more local ingredients, hence we are looking at sourcing more locally produced ingredients and game meats, using and supporting our local communities in turn. This also adds to the evening outdoor dining experience we offer, surrounded by the bush.”
Karen McEwan, Marketing Manager for The Dulini Collection, said: “We have found over the last few years that certain agents have started specialising in culinary tourism, which has certainly pushed us into ensuring that the lodge chefs are always on the ball.
“Our food offerings and presentation have certainly evolved with the ever-increasing trend of healthier eating and ensuring guests who are banting, paleo, gluten free and so on are still offered a variety of food.
“Food brings people together, and we create different dining experiences for our guests to showcase the natural beauty of Africa. Add locally inspired cuisine and wines to that and guests have a dining experience to remember,” adds McEwan.
Cape Town-based Chef, Liam Tomlin, has recently been reinventing food on safari at Singita’s various lodges, where he focuses more on pairings, from wine to craft beer and cocktails made with artisanal ingredients.
Dylan Pitallo, Executive Chef of three Singita Sabi Sand lodges, has created a menu that features African cuisine. Lunches include local ingredients, such as gemsbok, kudu, Saldanha Bay mussels, kingklip and waterblommetjies.