In the Words of – Chef Peter Tempelhoff

In an interview with We Are Africa, The Collection by Liz McGrath’s Executive Chef, Peter Tempelhoff, spoke of a few of our favourite things… inspiration, travel and Africa. In our series of insights from the Relais & Châteaux Africa and Indian Ocean tribe, we bring you the first words of wisdom from “South Africa’s gastronomic genius.”

On inspiration

My inspiration is multi-faceted, though there are the two main sources: the people I surround myself with and the local bounty of the region -The Fairest Cape.

Lunch at #GreenhouseCT by @rowaneva #greenhouseexperience #capetown #capetownmag

A post shared by Greenhouse (@greenhouse_ct) on

On travel

I truly believe that all young aspiring chefs need to travel, as food really is an international language. Learning how other cultures balance flavours, create textures and enhance tastes opens your mind and breaks down the barriers of culinary conservatism. My palate has always been pretty constant, it was my repertoire of cooking skills that really benefitted from my travels.

On the menu: beer, crisps and pretzels. {link in bio of full offering} #greenhousect #capetown

A post shared by Greenhouse (@greenhouse_ct) on

On cooking in Africa

I love the potential of African food; the first meal was eaten in Africa, so there is an amazing amount of history and lore that could be unearthed about African food. Despite the late start of South Africa onto the culinary scene, the country has made amazing strides to catch up to the rest of the world. I love being around this kind of energy.

My connection with Africa runs deep; every waking day I appreciate how good we have things on the southern tip of Africa. Living so far from the rest of the world, where importing food is poor economics, is actually a blessing in disguise. Why would I want to cook with peaches in winter or oranges in summer, why would I want a piece of fruit or meat flown 10 thousand kilometres for me to put it on a plate and feed it to a guest? I love being inextricably linked to the seasons and at one with the African earth, I love being so dependent on the rainfall for my porcini mushrooms and the sunshine for my hanneport. I love being at the mercy of all 4 seasons, because it is at the knees of Mother Nature that one learns versatility and creativity – it is here that a chef becomes humble and finds himself.

On trends

There are a lot of local chefs using modernist techniques in their cooking now, the secret is using it in moderation and only when necessary to enhance a flavour or a texture. The local scene has also seen an increased amount of chefs pushing the boundaries with daring combinations and ultra-creative plating techniques.

In South Africa there is a rise in carb-less cooking as well as a shift towards ancient preserving techniques like fermentation. I think both have their merit and can enhance the dining experience.

On reimagining South African food

Terroir cooking and conserving the culture of the region in which one is cooking is immeasurably important and definitely not country specific. Food is what nations are built on and as such preserving its culture is a means of preserving the country’s own culture.

Discover Peter Tempelhoff and his team’s creations at Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort, a Relais & Châteaux hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

Follow Peter on Instagram for more inspiration.

Read the full interview with We Are Africa here.

10 Questions with Chef Tim Okoth of ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya

You’ve heard the saying…

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” – James A. Michener

It might be your personal travel ethos – to embrace the unfamiliar. But it might also be as foreign to you as the new land you find yourself in. We all have a different way – of seeing, of being, of travelling. Surrendering to newness doesn’t come as easily to some as it does to, say, James A. Michener. But you have to admit, the real, overwhelming charm of travel that knocks you off your feet lies in the joy of doing just that – giving in to the strangeness, of the food, the customs, the religion, the people.

Throughout our travels across Africa and the Indian Ocean, we have tasted, sniffed, caressed, and glimpsed some peculiar foods and it has only enriched our experience and understanding of the country.

Kenya is one such place, with a range of dishes and cooking styles and influences that complement the wildlife safari with a culinary safari that is just as wild and wonderful.

One man taking people on that journey is Tim Okoth, Head Chef at ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya. The tallest chef in Africa (or at least one of the tallest). Get to know Tim in our 10 Questions below.

An Unlikely friendship that’s neither forced nor dictated upon ..

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

What has working at ol Donyo Lodge taught you about yourself, life and love?
I have learned to take pride in whatever is local, in our culture and our food. Catering to a diverse clientele has pushed my levels of creativity and enabled me to value more the art of pleasing with memorable dining experience.

How did your path lead you to ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya?
The first time I ever heard about ol Donyo Lodge was through another chef who told me they had a vacancy in their kitchen. I gave it a shot and applied.

How do you bring a taste of the land and terroir into your dishes?
My working background plays a major role in my approach to cooking. I research and try to relate Kenya’s food culture, with its Swahili, Indian and Arab influences, to my dishes.

What kind of cuisine do you focus on at the lodge?
My main focus over time has been simply to keep  it fresh, artistic and light. However, I’ve been found leaning mostly to Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean flavours since they relate well with me but I also add a lot of twists to popular classics.

Duck for lunch with orange vinaigrette

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

Your favourite dish on the menu right now? And why?
Lamb rack, urad dhal and wine poached root vegetables. Besides lamb being popular in Kenya, it’s my favourite meat and combining it with dhal makes me feel like I’m fully representing the Kenyan palate. The vegetables infused with some sweet and sour flavours also compliment the dish even further.

Where do you source most of your produce from and who are some of your favourite local food suppliers?
We have kitchen garden that caters for most of our salad needs. I also source some fresh produce from the nearest local market taking advantage of whatever is in season. The rest I source from suppliers near the city capital, my favourite supplier for meat being The Well Hanged Butcher. I basically focus on how consistent my suppliers are in delivering quality.

Lentil cakes with roast lemon and cherry Chutney

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

What new trends are currently inspiring you? Or old traditions?
I like the idea of going light in balance, making seemingly heavy/filling dishes bite size.

Some labor of love indeed #macaroons #oldonyolodge

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

The best way to spend a day at ol Donyo Lodge when not working?
Spending some quiet time alone in my house or playing a game of volleyball.

What do you love most about working in the bush, in particular at ol Donyo Lodge?
The well-equipped kitchen in terms of bush standards, and the wide platform and resources at my disposal.

Your most memorable day on the job?
My first experience with strict kosher guests early in my first year and making an impression with what we served them.


Salt-caramel Pear tart tartin, mincemeat ice cream & nasturtium # chef joshua

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

Sweet filo cigars,tamarind-chilli peach salad & a white chocolate truffle cream.

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

Tree tomato mousse

A post shared by Timothy Okoth (@timothyokoth) on

“Great Plains Conservation’s ol Donyo Lodge is a Relais & Châteaux property, with all the class and sophistication that implies. The food conjured up by chef Timothy Okoth is no exception. He loves to use fresh ingredients in season to produce in-depth flavours with subtle spices, like his signature anise and coconut simmered chicken, or chickpea and rosemary flatbreads. His osso buco has a delicious hint of fennel and his lamb shank is possibly the most succulent and delicious I’ve ever tasted.” – Roxanne Reid, Travel Blogger

10 Questions with Bushmans Kloof’s Rory du Plessis

We met Rory under a star-studded sky, on the kind of night that has you singing,

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a Moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes

And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush.

It was the kind of night when conversation flows as easily as the red wine between you. The kind that takes you from dinner in a candle-lit cabin to the open plains on a game drive with only the vehicle’s headlights to guide you through the wilderness. The kind of night you can’t have just anywhere, but that Bushmans Kloof, where Rory du Plessis, the lodge Maître de Maison, unveils time and again.

It was time to get to know more about not only life in this wilderness retreat in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa, when the sun comes up, but also about the man who gets to delight in it all, day after day.

10 Questions with Bushmans Kloof’s Rory du Plessis

  1. What has working at Bushmans Kloof taught you about life, love and yourself?

Life isn’t always a bed of roses, neither is love… but if you are not on the park you’re not in the game. It is about engaging with staff and guests and the more you do, the more you get out of it. Bushmans Kloof is all about experiences and as the GM you are able to manage the quality of experiences you wish Guests to have.  ‘Learning’ is an evolving thing…a work in progress. BK continues to be an incredible learning curve for me.

  1. How did your path lead you to Bushmans Kloof? And what is your role here now? 

Quite by accident really. I was in Cape Town visiting friends and received a call from a mate in London who asked if I might be interested in a position in the Western Cape. I had never worked in the Cederberg and had spent most of my career in the Lowveld and KwaZulu Natal. I went up for a quick look-see and was hooked. In my role now, I’m involved in every aspect of the operation, on behalf of the owners – from food, accommodation and guest experience, to the conservation aspects and maintaining the levels of quality expected of a Relais & Chateaux property.

  1. Favourite part about living in this remote reserve?

The solitude, the quietness, the stars at night, and a real bonus is never being stuck in traffic. I have been in lodges for 27 years despite a brief visit to Johannesburg, which I really did not enjoy, so I am very much a “bush boy”. I do enjoy visiting the city, especially Cape Town as it is a really vibey place.

  1. The best way to start and end a day here?

Always start with a good cup of coffee and end the day with unbelievably dark, starry  skies, uncontaminated by city lights, with a feeling of a job well done.

  1. Favourite time of year here and why?

It’s actually beautiful year round… but for different reasons; the summer months for the hot and dry weather and winter with the cold and rain. If I had to choose it would probably be August and September when the flowers are out. Its when the Cederberg truly comes into its own.

  1. The best way to spend a day off at Bushmans Kloof or to unwind?

It’s always nice to have a lie in, and then visit the neighbouring farm for breakfast, then head down into town for a little shopping. It’s pretty terrific to actually do nothing, embrace some dolce far niente, as the days at Bushmans Kloof are always rather hectic, behind the scenes at least.

  1. What makes Bushmans Kloof so special?

As always ‘people’ are the ‘X Factor’ in the operation.  Without our amazing Staff it simply wouldn’t be what it is. We consistently get feedback from guests saying that the highlight of the place was the interaction and care they received from our Staff.

  1. Favourite dish and wine on the menu at the lodge? And the best place to enjoy either on the reserve?

Favourite dish:  Springbok shank with a glass of Bouchard Finlayson ‘Hannibal’;  Favourite place:  Our shepard’s cottage, Kodoro, in front of a huge log fire. It goes without saying that this experience is made even better with great company.

  1. What are some of the ways that the lodge is involved in the community and conservation initiatives and what inspires you all to maintain this involvement?

We have a long standing commitment to Elizabethfontein School , which the children of our staff attend; we contribute significantly to assisting them in many different ways and this is ongoing.

In addition, the lodge is involved in  five sustainability projects with support from The TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit supported by The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands that works to ensure the environment and communities we visit remain vibrant for generations to come. We’re also involved in saving the Cape Mountain Zebra from extinction, preserving the endangered Clanwilliam Cedar Tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis). We also work at conserving the Clanwilliam Yellowfish and the Cape Leopard in conjunction with the Cape Leopard Trust. We are increasing our involvement and funding to helping put Anatolian sheep dogs into the surrounding farms to prevent these amazing animals from being destroyed. And we preserve and protect over 130 unique rock art sites on the property, some dating back 10 000 years

  1. The best adventure so far has been… And the next adventure will be…

It’s been one great adventure from the time I got here – the lodge, the surroundings, the activities, the guests and the amazing Red Carnation family of brands that Bushmans Kloof is a part of.

The next adventure I am hoping for is some serious deep sea fishing off the Cape coast.