Earlier this year an old friend of mine Jules Mercer, famous for the creation of the Outlandish Kitchen, visited Londolozi for an exciting feature. She was here to collect some of our all time favourite recipes for the creation of The Great South African Cookbook. An exciting all South African collaboration of the food our finest chefs, bakers, farmers and local food heroes make for the people they love. “The result is a book with 67 contributors, 150 recipes and 372 pages with personal stories from each contributor alongside stunning photography shot entirely on location around South Africa. Culinary legends and renowned chefs including Luke Dale-Roberts, Ina Paarman, Dorah Sitole, Pete Goffe-Wood, and Siphokazi Mdlankomo star alongside local food heroes.” We are just so excited to have been chosen to feature alongside these legends.
At the core of Londolozi’s philosophy lies three principles, namely Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife and Care of the People and this extends into everything that we do, including the way we source and prepare our food.
Our food philosophy is ‘Safari Simply Sophisticated’ and we focus on locally sourced produce that is homegrown but with a refined, Londolozi twist.
Our drive for the homegrown does not end with our food though. It extends to our staff too and we are constantly striving to provide opportunities for local staff to better themselves and grow in this team. Sipho and Thoko Khoza, one of Londolozi’s power couples, are a perfect example of this and hence the ‘little’ Londolozi family we chose to represent our larger Londolozi family for the cookbook feature.
Sipho has been a chef at Londolozi for 12 years and it was here, in the kitchen that he met the love of his life, Thoko Ngobeni. Thoko was also a trainee chef at the time, and Sipho took her under his wing to teach her. They have been married for 10 years and have a daughter called Thokozo, which means “Happiness” and 5 months ago, they were blessed with a baby boy called Samuel Lwandise, which means an enlargement of love. Together Sipho and Thoko, although they are Sous Chefs of different camps, work together as a team in all that they do.
Sipho Khosa, who I call “Silent Dynamite”, is a chef who has had not much formal training, yet he executes his work with extreme precision, passion, creativity and pride and is constantly upgrading his skills.
Sipho grew up in Johannesburg in a place called Tembisa. He went to school at Marulane Primary then to Kusasa in Tembisa and completed his Matric at Madlala High School in Justicia, close to Londolozi. After he’d completed his Matric, he travelled back to Johannesburg to do a Mechanical Engineering course. Due to lack of funds, he was unable to complete this, so entered the Police Force where he worked for 2 years. During this time, after hours, he discovered he had a talent for putting food on a plate and so returned to Justicia where he subsequently got a job at Londolozi.
In 2003, Sipho started as a Trainee Chef in the main kitchen. It was at this time that he began to enter some cooking competitions he had read about in the local newspaper. He entered the Mushroom Competition and came 2nd, thus spurring him to become what he is today.
Heading up the Founders Kitchen Team, Sipho takes huge pride in ensuring all his guest’s dietary requirements are met to the highest of standards. He takes personal interest in these guests and meets each and every one to make sure that they have exactly what they need. Sipho is also responsible for making most of the sauces that accompany our meat dishes as well as our lunchtime main meals. Recently he was integral in the learning process of Indian cuisine with Jeewan who was visiting us from Delhi, India.
Thoko, on the other hand, grew up in Dumphries in Mpumalanga. She did both her primary and secondary education at Mahlahluwana and Mawewe Schools. After completing high school, Thoko arrived at Londolozi in 2004 as a ‘Red Hot Trainee!’ She proved her flexibility by working in many areas at Londolozi, including housekeeping and as a set-up butler. She then realized that cooking was what she was meant to do and started off as a trainee chef at Varty Camp. She swiftly moved up through the ranks, working at all camps and when I arrived in 2012 as Executive Chef, I saw huge potential in Thoko and promoted her to Sous Chef of Tree Camp. Thoko’s favourite things to cook are soups and salads and she loves creating new dishes in these categories. Heading up Tree Camp, Thoko ensures that every meal is perfectly executed and she continues to grow and influence these teams positively every day.
We are so pleased that Sipho and Thoko found both their passion for food and their love for each other here at Londolozi. We expect to see big things from this ‘power couple’ in the coming years and look forward to watching where it is that their journey will take them in this team.
In this cookbook, Sipho and Thoko present two of Londolozi’s signature dishes, namely Baby Chickens with Peri Peri Sauce and our famous Londolozi Chocolate Chip Cookies. The book was launched on Mandela Day, 18 July, an auspicious day for the entire country but for us at Londolozi too who had a long-standing relationship with this great man.
The royalties from sales of this book will be given to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to develop and support community food and agricultural projects to aid in the upliftment of the impoverished through food sustainability and empowerment. We thank The Great South African Cookbook team for including us in the incredible project and are happy to have contributed to this great cause in some way.