20 Years with Flora Nkuna
Flora Nkuna – Londolozi’s Pastry Chef – was recently celebrated for her twenty years of service at Londolozi.
Knowing how much guests enjoy Londolozi’s pastries – including the famous Milk Tart served on deck before afternoon game drives – I jumped straight in and asked Flora what the secret to a perfect, short-crust, melt-in-your-mouth pastry is.
“There is no secret” says Flora, “just make sure you get the measurements correct: 500g flour, 250g butter, 300g icing sugar and one or two egg yolks, depending on what you’re making. It’s easy.”
“Yes, but you’ve had 20 years of practice” I reply.
“Actually no I haven’t,” comes the response. “Working with desserts is a very delicate thing, but I started at Londolozi in October 1993 as part of the habitat team. Bush clearing, bush maintenance, beating back fires. My hands had to get rough. Those were my beginnings. And today I make quiche and chocolate tarts with these hands.”
From the habitat team, Flora moved into the kitchen. First the scullery, then as a “relief” cook, and then – when it became clear that Flora could delay afternoon game drives as guests indulged in second and third helpings of the most delicious desserts on the deck – Flora moved into the pastry kitchen.
As well as her (very important) role in the Londolozi kitchen, Flora has become well known in her home village of Lilleydale as the “Pastry Queen”, baking cakes for special occasions, and working her magic with pastries and sweets.
One last question Flora – what’s your idea of a perfect meal?
“I don’t actually like sweet things” laughs Flora. “I am a down-to-earth girl. Fresh water fish, pap and sheba, pumpkin, sweet potato” … “and a salad” adds the Pastry Queen with a straight face.
Thank you for being part of the Londolozi family for twenty years, Flora. Here’s to the next twenty and many more magic moments in the best corner of the kitchen.
Written by Ryan James