10 Kitchen Rules from Londolozi’s Executive Chef, Anna Ridgewell
Creating a sustainable kitchen requires more than simply choosing the right produce. It’s a philosophy, not simply an action, and one that requires a spirit of sharing, collaboration and awareness. Here Chef Anna from Londolozi in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve in South Africa shares her ten rules for herself and her team when fostering the type of gastronomy that goes deeper and helps to create a better world.
- Sustainability when it comes to Food Production is essential. We have 39 gardens which have taken about 3 years to really kick off and are now abundant with all our leafy vegetables – spinach, mint, parsley, cos lettuce, basil, rocket and we are now introducing the herbs such as rosemary, sage and chives as well as smaller veg to see how it goes. Our chefs run some of these gardens and they have learnt what to grow and how it must look having worked with the actual ‘bought in’ product.
- Ethical food suppliers are vital. As we are family owned and family run, we have tended to sway more to those suppliers who are the same. We have also encouraged our main supply source to reach out to local farmers, thus empowering them to create more income.
- Choose Real Food. I consider most of the food we serve at Londolozi to be real food – we serve the most organic leaf in the world! We produce just about all our own pestos and sauces and pickles and chutneys, therefore knowing no added preservatives have been used
- Share your knowledge. We dedicate time to holding an “open houses”, where we sit and share our knowledge on various topics, including food. We also educate our guests with talks in our Ubuntu hut, to allow them to receive our messages – of sustainability, of purpose, of community.
- Celebrate the people and stories behind the food. We do this through our blog and with guests, while they dine with us.
- Unity. We like to bring everyone together for big family lunches in the village over an impala pot. Gathering our guests around a campfire, telling stories of the wild. There is nothing better and more special than that fire!
- Uplift. Give everyone in your kitchen a chance to shine. Our chefs are able to benefit from training on the job, for instance, they have just done a ProChef course which has enabled them to receive a significant certificate and to further their skill level.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. All our food now comes in crates with minimal plastic. We have created a system with our supplier that he has jumped on the bandwagon with which has been great. We are straining our oil and re selling to the staff so we don’t throw it down a drain or into a river.
- Be aware. Of new food trends and sustainability debates. In the past 2 years, I have moved more away from eating red meat, as well as chicken and fish, however, I dare not call myself a vegan nor vegetarian. But what’s important is to continue to become more aware of our diets and their effect on the earth and our animals. Sustainability matters to me because it’s an awareness of the environment. I don’t want my nieces and nephews to grow up and not see the vastness of beauty on our planet.
- Stay inspired. One woman who continues to inspire me is the food specialist and chef, Yvonne Short. She was the first person I met when I started in the bush, 22, 23 years ago. And she has continued to inspire me through all these years, in terms of pushing me to do better. She’s like a second mother tome. Her passion for food is beyond borders, it’s incredible. She’s just an incredible foodie. She was the one who taught me how to put flavours together and taught me more or less how to be who I am today in the kitchen.