Africa is a nation rich in a diversity of flavour, and as Virginia Woolf so adequately said: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”. The Elephant Camp is committed to providing guests with a delicious cuisine that celebrates our bounty of fresh local produce, ensuring that every meal is an experience to be remembered and revered.
Dean Jones, Wild Horizons’ Executive Chef, based at The Elephant Camp, recognises that food is more than just a meal, but an art in the most delicious form. He believes that “being a chef is an expression of character, passion, creativity and love”. Dean did his culinary training at Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town, which is highly acclaimed for its three-year Grande Diploma Course. However, it was while watching his mother prepare sweet and savoury snacks for functions as a young boy that his seeds of passion were sown. He soon recognised food as a way of bringing people together and expressing himself through the different flavour profiles in each meal.
During his culinary training, Dean was taught the fundamentals of French Cooking. Throughout his first year, he mastered the techniques that would come to define, and radiate, through his expertly accomplished dishes. During his second year, Dean spent two months in five different kitchen environments, where he gained valuable experience working at several reputable restaurants, including The Conservatory at The Cellars Hohenourt, Myoga Restaurant at the Vineyard Hotel in Claremont, and The Foodbarn in Noordhoek. Dean’s innovative and creative recipe development and food styling skills can be attributed to his time spent with Abigail Donnelly at the Woolworths Taste Magazine.
In the April of 2016, Dean was selected as a semi-finalist out of tens of thousands of chefs from around the world in a global competition called The San Pellergrino Young Chefs Award. Due to this Global competition, at the age of 30, Dean was recognised as one of the worlds ‘up-and-coming’ young chefs.
If food is the body of good living, then wine is the soul. Under the guidance of Chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Francais’s The Tasting Room in the beautiful Cape Winelands of Franschhoek, Dean gained valuable knowledge about the process of tasting wine, as well as the winemakers themselves. Dean will introduce and execute decadent Wine & Coffee pairings, as well as High Tea & Champagne pairings that are sure to exhilarate our flow of international clientele. Having been motivated by a variety of multi-talented and well-renown chefs, Dean is now striving to be the type of food connoisseur that future diners and chefs are inspired by.
Dean has a passion for pastry that arose while he spent time in his Ouma’s bakery as a young boy. Through his flaky phyllo pastry, tantalising tarts, and buttery crisp croissants, Dean’s freshly baked menu achieves a wow factor in textures, flavours and presentation. American humorist Erma Brombeck was right when she told the world: “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.” It will take a strong-willed person to wave away Dean’s pastry display.
The concept of travelling is infused with the aromas and tastes of each place that we visit, and in order to truly absorb a culture, we need to savour the delicacies that the region has to offer. The meals devised by Dean are well worth travelling for.
Happiness is derived from good food, good music and good wine, all three of which Dean has a well-nurtured passion for. His creativity in the kitchen shapes food artistry that introduces diners to new sensations, cultures and tastes.
“Life is made up of many wonderful, colourful people, and food has a way of bringing cultures, families and friends together. It has the ability to induce nostalgia, calm, healing and peace.” – Dean Jones.
Victoria Falls, a quaint town home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, was transformed into festival central over the New Year period. The atmosphere hummed with excitement, music from multiple genres filled the air and the streets teamed with brightly dressed party goers. Land Rovers wound across the busy roads, packed with adrenaline seekers as they made their way between the rafting excursions, gorge swings, helicopter rides, and various pool parties dotted around the town.
The 3-day event came to life on the edge of the mighty Zambezi River. Beneath the surface of the glistening ripples live countless fish, crocodile and hippo. Birds dip and dive among the indigenous green trees that proudly overlook this impressive body of water. It is the ideal location to mark the start of the three-day extravaganza. There is no better way to spend an afternoon than lazing by the banks of a slow flowing river, listening to the gentle background music of talented DJ’s, with a refreshing drink at hand. The moon eventually took its place in the sky, and in small groups, people returned to town and pay a visit to the vibey Shoestrings Backpackers Lodge and Mvu bar, where the festivities continued into the early hours of the following morning.
On day two the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival raced on at full steam ahead with the popular party train, which took off on the 30th. Hundreds of people made their way to what can only be described as Grand Celebration Station. Waving their luminous purple wrist bands in the air above their heads, people leapt aboard the ride of a lifetime. Hogwarts Express pales in comparison to the party train, which was equipped with bars, music and hundreds of enthusiastic passengers. The train made its way to Jafuta, where a stage and strobe lights awaited the train. The high-pitched whistle of the train could barely drown the sound of the powerful music pouring from the speakers at the front. The smell of frying burger wafted across the eastern end of the party, while the sound of ice clattering into cooler boxes sounded at the west, where people were served their drinks in the light of the setting sun. Local DJ’s transported the crowd on a musical journey that only ended once the final train was ready to make its final departure home at 1 o’clock in the morning.
It is hard to believe that this was just the warm-up so the main event.
Like children to the Pied Pipers tune, so the carnival troopers danced their way onto the field where the NYE party unfolded. Feet pounded the earth from dusk until dawn as music from Locnville, Sketchy Bongo, GoodLuck and many more artists engulfed the crowd. The various food stalls also got a fair amount of attention as the night wore on and the munchies kicked in. People were lured off the dance floor by the delicious aroma of frying burger patties, and returned revitalised and ready to party on. The lights emanating from the stage gave the carnival an almost surreal feel. The vibrant colours washed over the dancefloor and swirled across the stage, reaching high into the navy blue sky towards the millions of stars that watched the carnival below. During the countdown into the new year, a soft mist drifted down, refreshing the party so that they could carry on dancing into the eagerly anticipated new year.
The Jameson Vic Falls Carnival is as unique and special as the town in which it takes place. The earth’s natural beauty flourishes here and can be seen everywhere, whether you are strolling through the rainforest, hurtling through the rapids or plunging into African air at the edge of a bungee cord. There is a marriage between cultural diversity and musical talent that leaves listeners with new found musical taste. Everyone you meet at the carnival is excited, friendly and ready for an adventure. The elation doesn’t end from the moment you step into Victoria Falls, to the moment you say your wistful goodbyes to her. Wild Horizons are proud to be Co-sponsors of the Jameson Vic Falls Carnival.
Victoria Falls is a town where elephants stop by for a drink (out of the swimming pool), buffalo jay-walk across the road, and the rainforest is just a stone’s throw away from your local café. Zimbabwe born chef Callie-Anne Gavazzi shared her passion for cooking with an international audience when she appeared on South Africa’s MasterChef. On a recent trip to Victoria Falls we gave her a taste of the wild, and she generously returned the favour with a succulent Seared Steak Salad recipe for the Lookout Café menu. This tantalising dish marries contemporary cooking to indigenous ingredients, and the bright, fresh colours make it almost (repeat, almost) too attractive to eat.
With the lip of the Batoka gorge as her kitchen, the Zambezi river roaring below her and the African sun blazing above her, Gavazzi showed us how she made it into the top 25 MasterChef’s of South Africa. You would be doing your taste buds a great disservice if you did not treat them to her salad on your next trip to the Lookout Café.
For most people, spending an hour on the edge of a one-hundred-meter gorge would be daring enough. However, Gavazzi decided that the adventure wasn’t going to stop there. Forgoing the apron for a harness, she tackled the gorge swing cool as a cucumber (excuse the pun). This ability to take bold leaps into unknown territory is what lends this young chef’s reality cooking show such a keen sense of excitement. In an interview with The Citizen, Gavazzi described herself as a “slave to the ingredients”, and her appreciation of local produce has inspired the inception of unique dishes including pizzas made with crocodile eggs.
Anyone that has visited Africa will know that she is so much more than a destination. Once your feet have walked across her hot savannas, your lungs have filled with her clean breeze, and your skin has soaked up her gentle rays of light, these feelings remain with you forever. This part of the world is bursting with diverse flavours and Gavazzi transforms these rich ingredients into truly satisfying soul food.
Q & A with Callie
Wild Horizons: What was the most exciting part of your trip to Victoria Falls?
Gavazzi: Oh, gosh this is a hard one. Each part of the Vic Falls was just magical in its very own way. I would have to say the gorge swing! It’s out if this world …. throwing yourself off a cliff and it was an incredible feeling.
I also LOVED the Boma. Proudly Zimbabwean food that is authentic and delicious. One cannot visit Victoria falls without eating there it’s just delicious.
WH: What item on the Lookout Café menu would you recommend to future diners?
G: Mine of course!! (Haha just kidding!) I love the crocodile skewers; they were very tasty and very creative. I am all for trying new things in beautiful destinations. Oh, and don’t forget to have an ice-cold Zambezi beer to wash it all down!
WH: Did you try Mopani worms during your dinner at the Boma?
G: Yes, I did! Yikes!!! it’s one of those things you just have to do at the Boma. They actually have this peanut butter-ish flavor! I actually used to munch them as a little girl…so it wasn’t too bad! Haha
WH: What would be the first thing on your To Do list for future trips to Victoria Falls?
G: I think between Whitewater rafting and the Zambezi express train! Those activities are at the top of my list. Adrenaline win has to be the water rafting- it’s insane! I loved it so much.
I also just think the train is so old school and beautiful. It gives you a sense of what it was like back in the day. Not to mention the view of the falls from the train is breath-taking.
WH: When can we look forward to seeing you adventure here on Callie-Anne Cooks: Into the Wild?
G: I am so thrilled about this season. I still have season 2 to look forward to. But season 3 will air sometime in 2017. I will be sure to keep everyone in the loop of exact details.
Written by Jess White