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A Love Letter

Confined to South Africa, Nicky spends her days dreaming of returning to the place she loves best in the world. Her heart is filled with longing to be back with the Angama family, to walk through the property at sunrise remembering how every detail was conceived and then built, to spend time with the team sharing their lockdown stories, to greet guests again, and, best of all, to hang out in the kitchen

I was recently asked during a book review what did I hope to achieve by writing Out of An African Kitchen? That was easy to answer: this collection of recipes and food stories was written for our guests to remind them of our beautiful corner of Africa and the meals they enjoyed whilst on safari with us and it was also written as a love letter to the chefs who I have worked alongside for the past five years. It was the only way I could really say thank you. Thank you for the joy of cooking together. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for the delicious food you have lovingly prepared for our guests over the past 1700 days. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for putting up with my crazy ideas. Thank you for being just the best team ever.

My mantra for Angama’s food is simple: Our food is not fancy. Our food is good. And this has not changed since the first guest arrived way back in June 2015. I knew exactly what we were going to serve our guests: delicious dishes, simply prepared from the finest local ingredients, served in a multitude of settings, no buffets to be seen and all menus a la carte for 60 well-travelled and discerning guests out of five kitchens in the middle of nowhere cooked by a wholly Kenyan team. The only problem was that no one else had a clue what I was talking about.

The first step was to find a head chef who had the strength of character to recruit a team of 17, manage 5 kitchens (including a staff canteen serving 300 meals a day), work with me training the chefs, find local suppliers for weird ingredients like red quinoa and za’atar and, toughest of all, able to put up with me.

Chef Collins nailed it. This is what he had to say about our cookery book: ‘My dream has come true. I have always wished that one day I will write my recipe book’. His two lieutenants, Chef Joseph and Chef Evans are rock solid pillars in our kitchens. Evans told me ‘I am proud to be among the team who made it. It’s a summary of what I cook every single day. The team pictures remind me of the fun and love in our kitchen’. Mzee Joseph filled my heart with these words ‘Thank you for the recipe book which I have shared with my family at home. Proud to be one of the Angama chefs … it’s the first time in my life to appear in a book’.

Our star soccer Chef Hudson added ‘I am happy to be part of the team, love their unity, cooperation and knowledge about food which have resulted in this book’. Kina, queen of the bakery never fails to brighten my day with her sweet smile adds ‘Cooking is one thing but cooking whilst creating memories is a lifetime achievement. I love our book’. Katana, our chef with a silver palate reminds us ‘My fellow chefs cooking is art. At Angama Mara my dream has come true with this recipe book’. Our breakfast maestro Chef Johnny reminisces ‘This book reminds me where we started 5 years ago and up to now. Love and passion have resulted in this’ and uber griller Chef James wraps up with ‘I am happy to be part of this team who make Nicky’s dreams come true.'

One fine day, ten years from now, I know that an Angama chef who started in our kitchens by peeling potatoes will walk into an interview for a head chef position at a lodge and place our cookery book on the table and say ‘I can cook everything in here’.

Enough said.

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Chefs , Angama Food , Angama Mara , Angama Staff , Out of An African Kitchen

About: Nicky Fitzgerald

After more than 30 years in hospitality, starting with a small hotel at the foot of Africa and followed by a further couple of Cape hotels, most notably The Bay, and sixty plus safari lodges across Africa and India, Nicky has served more meals, puffed more cushions, filled more beds, trained more staff and opened more properties than she cares to remember. Her driving force is ‘will our guests love this?’ She has come full circle and is happily puffing, cooking, training and filling to her heart’s content high up on the edge of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley at Angama Mara.

Browse all articles by Nicky Fitzgerald Meet the angama team

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