There’s one thing that unites the world. Every single person needs it. Some people enjoy the finer side of it, and some scramble to get enough just to stay alive – Food.
What if we were to tell you that you can travel to incredible destinations and experience the most sumptuous meals, while benefitting impoverished communities, and helping to put food on their tables? Guilt-free travel at its finest.
Through our portfolio of eco-retreats and tours, we operate under the pillar of responsible tourism. But what does it mean to travel responsibly? According to The Huffington Post, it means “Being socially and culturally aware when you travel, understanding your affect on the places you visit and trying to make that affect a positive one.”
It can be quite taxing and honestly pretty time-consuming to figure out whether or not the accommodation you are booking is operating sustainably, if the tour you booked is ethical, and if your money is going back into the local communities. We have made a commitment to make sure that each of our destinations fits with our ethos of living sustainably and in harmony with nature.
We support local wherever possible, through the produce we use and the people we recruit and train.
At our luxurious properties across Southern Africa, our chefs impress our guests with freshly-prepared, delicious meals and beverages. Our Mozambique chefs are all from local villages and we have upskilled them in culinary arts.
Our Machangulo villas’ kitchen teams recently welcomed esteemed chef, Francois Ferreira, who walked them through professional culinary training and hospitality skills. The idea is to empower our teams so that they learn transferable skills that can carry them in their careers for years to come.
Whether our chefs are catering for one or two people or dozens, they put their soul into their cooking to create innovative and surprising, mouth-watering dishes. Couples, small groups and wedding parties all have been wowed by our chefs across our Southern African portfolio of eco retreats.
At the heart of our business, as always, is our strive to remain eco-conscious. This is something we continue to instil in our teams across our portfolio. Our motivation leads to thoughtfully crafted menus, using sustainable foods that lend themselves to a light footprint.
In April this year, we welcomed a new head chef to our Cape Town eco-hotel, Vida Nova Retreat. We had searched for a chef that was not just driven by food artistry and delectable combinations of flavours and textures, but also focused on sustainability.
Chef Delayn Lewies’ passions lie in crafting his dishes and exploring new flavours, while keeping the ingredients local, seasonal and organic. He describes himself as an unconventional chef, and this trait lends itself to extraordinary multi-sensory dishes. His passion for authentic local ingredients allows him to create fantastic meals with simple produce.
Chef Delayn has revivified the Vida Nova Retreat menu to focus on eco-friendly and ethical dining. He uses seasonal, organic produce on the menu and you’ll often find exceptional indigenous ingredients, that he has foraged from our Cape coasts and the forests surrounding our hotel. Many other ingredients are grown on the hotel grounds in our working garden.
One of our longest-standing team members is Emma Nkomo, head chef at Vida Nova Kruger. Emma’s devotion to her craft is evident in every masterly recipe that she creates. She can trace her love of food back to her toddlerhood, when she started sneaking out of her room on the nature reserve she grew up on, to make breakfast with the chefs in the morning.
Emma is incredibly talented and is always trying out new creations. We highly enjoy being the test subjects for her experimental dishes, and it’s rare that we find someone who is not delighted with everything she puts in front of them.
Also, highly adept at the more familiar dishes, Emma has honed her skills to perfection over a decade of working in professional kitchens, in both rural and urban areas. She and her husband, who happens to be our expert field ranger, Nick, have worked incredibly hard to get the retreat garden up and running. They just harvested their first batch of vegetables to use on the menu and are aiming to get to the point of using fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs from the garden daily, with any excess harvest being traded within the community.
Although quiet and unassuming, our head chef at Kilima Sanctuary blows our guests’ minds away with his amazing spreads. Absalon hails from the tiny village of Santa Maria, the only settlement on our remote Machangulo Peninsula. We quickly realised his talents in the kitchen and he has been fastidiously working to create flavoursome dishes. He was recently handpicked to attend our chef’s training course with Francois Ferreira.
Absalon loves creating freshly squeezed juices to start the day, alongside a banquet of fresh fruits and his own mix of muesli. Lunches and dinners are veritable feasts fit for royalty, thankfully, without the gluttonous connotation.
He knows how to make sure you’re perfectly satisfied with delicious and amazing sustainable local seafood, sublimely complementary side dishes and scrumptious vegetable platters. All this is delivered with amicable Mozambique hospitality from our ever-smiley host, Bernardo.
Shhh… don’t tell our chefs, but we snuck some of their favourite sauce recipes into our blog.
100g red chilli
3 cloves garlic
250g sugar/100ml water
10g chopped parsley
Place sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring up to a boil and remove from heat (should be a clear but caramel consistency). Chop the chilli and remove the seeds (depending on how hot you like it). Finely chop the garlic and parsley. Add all ingredients to your clear caramel one by one. Do not stir too much.
You should end up with a sweet but spicy, sticky sauce.
TIP This sauce can be served as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, chicken nuggets etc. It also makes a delectable marinade for pork and chicken.
25-30g sunflower seeds
2 cloves garlic
Pinch salt and pepper to season
30g grated parmesan
60-80ml olive or macadamia oil
This can all be muddled together in a mortar and pestle. Slowly add the olive oil once all the other ingredients are crushed and keep mixing until you get your desired texture.
Alternatively, put all ingredients into a blender without the oil. Slowly start drizzling the oil in until you reach your desired consistency (note: bear in mind that you’ll almost start whipping it in a blender so be cautious not to overdo it – it’ll turn a very light green colour as opposed to the rich dark green achieved in a mortar and pestle).
Serve immediately, or jar it with a dash of extra oil on top to stop extra oxidation.
TIP this sauce works well for a delicious Caprese-style chicken (see above image): cut four, ¾ deep slits into the top side of chicken breasts. Spoon some of the pesto into the slits and place in a baking tray with either a homemade tomato sauce or store-bought. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 185℃. Remove foil, top with mozzarella, and pop back in the oven for another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and started browning slightly.
450g red chillies chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1tsp smoked paprika
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped basil
½ cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Simply put all the ingredients into a blender, and blend to the consistency that suits you – coarse or smooth.
TIP this is a very versatile sauce that can be used to accompany many dishes. We highly recommend mixing it with mayo to make a delicious dip for crayfish, sweet potato fries, mozzarella sticks, and more.
Despite common misconceptions, it truly is possible for luxury travel with impeccable dining, to also be ethical, and eco-conscious. Browse our carefully selected portfolio of retreats, villas, experiences, and a private island that will provide you with the vacation of a lifetime, while offsetting your carbon footprint and giving back to disadvantaged communities.