Offering safari lodging and wildlife experiences that are second-to-none, some may be surprised that Singita and its portfolio of 12, soon to be 14, properties are also making waves in the world of gastronomy. We chat with the groups’ General Manager of Hospitality, Frank Louw, to talk about the launch of Singita: Our Food Story, a cookbook compiled of the properties’ finest African-inspired recipes.
The story of Singita began in 1993 with the opening of its first lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Since then, the luxury safari group has grown to include 12, soon to be 13, properties offering unforgettable safari experiences and world-class hospitality across South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
As the portfolio has grown, so too has the culinary experience: a gastronomic journey which sees guests treated to an outstanding food offering rooted in local flavours and sustainable practices. In celebration of the food and those behind it, Singita has recently published Singita: Our Food Journey, a 274-page cookbook packed to the brim with delectable recipes sourced from all countries and regions. To celebrate its release, we spoke with Singita’s General Manager of Hospitality, Frank Louw, to learn a little bit more about his background, the cuisine at Singita’s properties, and what people can expect from this new cookbook.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you’ve got to Singita?
I began my chef journey at Singita Kruger National Park in March 2005 as a relief chef for what was meant to be a short three-week stint; fourteen years later, I’m still here. I immediately fell in love with the Singita brand, its clear vision, sleek procedures and efforts in conservation. Within two years I was appointed Head Chef at Singita Sweni Lodge, where I also met my wife, Donna, another contributor to Singita: Our Food Journey.
In 2009, I was appointed Head Chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge in the Serengeti. I have a strong interest in training and developing talent, so soon after my arrival I began work to establish the Singita Community Culinary School focused on training and promoting local chefs. This led to my role as Executive Chef at all six lodges at Singita Serengeti. I held this position for nine years before becoming a General Manager.
Tell us a bit about Singita: Our Food Journey and the people behind the recipes.
The recipes were a creative collaboration of chefs throughout Singita at all properties. Food is important on so many different levels to different people, and having this mix of talent contribute to the book showcases exactly that. It is a story of how food has changed everyone’s lives within Singita, from the chefs to the suppliers and the great community cooperatives that have been started.
Mick Hoyle was instrumental in the photography and layout of the book–he was also the publisher. He travelled with us to all the properties and has an incredible eye for detail and food styling.
I personally have two major people to thank in creating this book: Georgie Pennington of Singita Style, Design and Procurement, and Donna Louw, my wife. It was our dream to be able to do this and there was no way I could do it on my own.
How important is it to you that each property’s kitchen works with local suppliers?
Singita’s central sustainability philosophy guides the food journey, always keeping the local farmers and growers at heart.
As part of Singita’s approach to supporting adjacent communities, we source as much food as we can locally. The lodges place great emphasis on their farm-to-table approach and the use of fresh, seasonal produce is one of the most important elements of the enticing daily menus.
Do you have a favourite recipe?
I love the rusks–I know it is very South African–but this recipe takes me back 14 years to when my career started with Singita. I absolutely fell in love with this recipe. I had never seen granola rusks made this way. I remember sending the recipe to my mom to bake when I came home on leave, and they were ready and waiting for me. It was also the recipe that added three inches to my waist–every bit worth it!
Order your copy of Singita: Our Food Story here. All profits from the cookbook will be channelled into two of Singita’s community initiatives: The Singita Community Culinary School in South Africa and Singita Serengeti School or Cooking Tanzania, both of which are dedicated to supporting the next wave of Singita chefs from the local communities.
OUR FAVOURITE SINGITA PROPERTIES:
Singita Faru Faru Lodge
Singita Faru Faru Lodge is one of five lodges located in Tanzania’s 350,000-acre Grumeti Game Reserve, a protected area at the edge of the world-famous Serengeti National Park. It features an intimate nine suites; including seven one-bedroom suites, a family suite for two adults and two children, and a two-bedroom suite with private pool. First opening in 2007, the property recently underwent a redesign and now flaunts beautiful interiors with natural materials, earthy tones, handmade furniture and bespoke crafts from local artisans. Overlooking a busy watering hole alongside the Grumeti River, this is an incredible wilderness setting to soak up the unparalleled Singita experience.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Singita Lebombo Lodge
Set in one of South Africa’s largest game reserves floating atop giant euphorbia trees, Singita Lebombo Lodge has been welcoming adventurers since 2001. There is a total of 15 open-plan suites set alongside N’Wanesti River, including a private, fully-staffed four-bedroom villa with its own swimming pool, lounge, dining room and deck. Additional lodge features include a rooftop viewing platform, interactive kitchen, library and 25-metre lap pool. Secluded and sophisticated, guests can fill their days with guided safari walks, indulgent spa treatments, cooking classes and photography excursions.
This luxury lodge is set on the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, a 130,000-acre expanse of land in south-eastern Zimbabwe. Singita Pamushana comprises nine plush suites with interiors that take design cues from local Shangaan culture. Sustainability and conservation for Singita is paramount, and this lodge has partnered with Malilangwe Trust to work together to preserve the African wilderness. A mesmerising setting and world-class facilities combine to take your safari experience to new heights.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge
A unique addition to the Singita portfolio, Singita Kwitonda Lodgeis due to open in the latter half of 2019. Unlike the mild environments of the other locations, here the temperature is cool as the property sits amidst lush rainforest overlooking Volcanoes National Park. There will be eight suites and a private four-bedroom villa, Kataza House with locally-inspired, design-led interiors. A highlight of one’s stay is likely to be the gorilla treks, where guests will head into the cloud forests in pursuit of coming face to face with the world’s endangered gorillas.
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