January 2018 – With the imminent reopening of Mombo at the end of January 2018, the camp’s new executive chef, Johan Van Schalkwyk and his experienced food and beverage team, have redefined Mombo’s food culture, including more traditional Botswana fare and interactive meals, such as cooking over the coals in true African style.
Various dining experiences at Little Mombo – bush sundowners; elegant dining area; butler’s hatch for exclusive in-villa dining
Mombo’s cuisine has always remained relevant to its surroundings, using locally-sourced ingredients prepared with great care and respect, offering guests an authentic yet refreshing and stylish dining experience deep in the remote Okavango Delta.
“The dining concept and the food culture at Mombo will also remain true to the purpose of why guests travel to Africa”, says Wilderness Safaris Group Food Experience Manager, Linda Van Rensburg. “Guests come to Botswana primarily to see wildlife and to spend time in the wilderness, which is why we will be placing more emphasis on our out-of-camp dining experiences so that guests can spend as much time out in the bush as possible, enjoying excellent food in nature – if they so wish”.
When in camp, the focus is to bring guests, guides and hosts together to share experiences and stories of present and past at Mombo with family-style dining, with plenty of private dining options available too. “Flexibility is key and our experienced team is on hand to craft the most memorable dining experiences for our guests according to their specific preferences; whether it’s enjoying a meal under the stars in the open-air boma or a romantic, candle-lit dinner for two in the privacy of their villa”, added van Rensburg. “We’ll also be creating many special surprises to ensure that our cuisine has that magic touch, such as a true African braai (“barbeque”), where guests can watch their private chef grill steak over the coals”.
With over 25 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, there is no-one better to bring Mombo’s food culture to life than its new executive chef, Johan Van Schalkwyk. Having worked as the executive chef for numerous restaurants in top South African wine estates such as Diemersfontein and Constantia Uitsig, Johan has invaluable skills in terms of food-and-wine pairing and catering to a range of world-class palates. In addition to owning and managing two award-winning restaurants, he was also the head chef at Chateau Bellenau in Normandy, France.
According to Johan, “It is an exciting chapter for me to join the Mombo team in Botswana and to take the camp’s food offering and culture to even greater heights. This is my first experience in the bush and it is a true privilege to be working at the exquisite new camp in such pristine surroundings. I have been labelled a country chef due to my history of working on wine estates and delivering exclusive bistro fare. I believe it is a very popular style of dining that suits the set-up of being in the bush – laid back, yet sophisticated with fresh plating styles and many clean, uncluttered flavours. Our emphasis will be on delivering fresh dishes, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves”.
In addition to the a la carte menu, there will be a daily chef’s delight/surprise on offer to satisfy guests’ personal taste preferences. Some of Mombo’s signature dishes will be centred around local African ingredients and cultures, such as their world-renowned Botswana beef fillet, ostrich and apricot tagine, pan-fried African bream fillets with avocado, vine cherry tomatoes and grilled corn salsa, and honey and harissa chicken skewers served on a baby herb salad. The menu will also include old Mombo favourites like its homemade open wild mushroom lasagne and hand-chopped gourmet Botswana beef burgers served with Kalahari truffle aioli. On the sweet side, Mombo’s milk tart spring rolls with cinnamon ice-cream or decadent chocolate fondant with a raspberry sorbet will round off the meal, and delicious fire-side jaffles will fill the gap “on the go” for guests to enjoy on early-morning game drives.
“On the main deck we also have a pizza oven that has one of the best views in Africa! Guests can enjoy thin-based artisanal pizzas made by our chefs as well as daily fresh breads and slow-cooked dishes from the oven. We will also be offering interactive cooking lessons and food demonstrations for guests interested in picking up some tips on local cuisine”, Johan added.
To further demonstrate Mombo’s commitment to rhino conservation, the unique rhino boma will be used to conduct conservation talks and presentations to celebrate Mombo’s local culture, as well as to serve traditional meals such as beef seswa (traditional pounded beef), tswii (waterlily root stew and spinach in a creamy coconut and peanut sauce) and baby mgwenyas with Amarula ice-cream. “Our food offering will be an array of dishes representing southern Africa’s melting pot of cuisines served in the beautiful setting that is Mombo, ‘the place of plenty’”, concluded van Rensburg.