Sipho Ngomane affectionately known as ‘Fatman’ or ‘Vet Cook’ is the person who really runs the Londolozi Kitchen! I am often asked, “how do we know how much to order?” “How much to prepare and how do we do what we do in one day?” Well the answer is simple – his name is Sipho!
Sipho is one of six children of Judas Ngomane, one of Londolozi’s great trackers who has been here for 26 years!
Sipho was born in Acornhoek and did all of his schooling in the area. When he finished high school in 2000, he took a while to decide what to do with his career, so spent time working with the anti-poaching unit in Hoedspruit but then in 2005 he came to Londolozi (to be with his father and brother). He started a training programme in the various departments and spent time working as a barman, in maintenance and later in the kitchen where he soon realized that’s what he loved! Sipho did so well and being the loveable person he is, was asked to stay on at Londolozi.
He became the official Londolozi kitchen storeman in 2006.
Sipho’s day starts early at 06h00 where he comes and packs all the different camp’s lugs, before heading off to all five camps to check them in. He then makes sure that all his stores and fridges are clean and issues the chefs with what they need for the day. He also makes sure I know what I need for the day.
Throughout his years at Londolozi, ‘Fatman’ has excelled in many areas and he was one of the first staff members to gain his International Computer Driver’s Licence in 2012 with the highest marks recorded. He was then instrumental in showing the other chefs that learning was so important to life.
Sipho has three children – Imagine (18), Podesta (12) and Grateful (3 months) whom he encourages to do well at school so they can, in his words, “have a brighter future”. Imagine is finishing school this year and is already planning her next step at university.
Sipho’s next goal is to conquer the learning of Pastel, which he will start in the next few months.
One of the greatest things about Fatman is his smile! No matter what kind of day he’s having, when he greets everyone he smiles. He also has a laugh that can be heard from all corners of the kitchen and he is not shy to bargain with a supplier or encourage them to improve on their service, should this be the case. Sipho has visited most of our suppliers with me as he is the person on the phone and it’s part of our philosophy to foster good relations with everyone we work with.
I have learnt over many cups of cappuccinos and the odd chocolate chip cookie (he has an incredible sweet tooth!) in our kitchen office, many life lessons from Fatman, the main being that nothing is ever too big to get over.