I am notoriously punctual. I think this stems from the one and only time I was ever truly, ridiculously late – the day I was born.
There is a term for children like me born into the hotel industry. We are called ‘back-of-house babies’ inspired from our formative years spent trying to sneak our way through the iron curtain of a hotel: the one that separates the hard-working guts and the beautifully serene exterior where guests languish on sun loungers drinking cappuccinos by the pool.
Being late, and arriving in this world a week before Christmas, was just the smallest of impositions on my mother, who at the time ran, together with my father, the Arniston Hotel at the southernmost tip of Africa, including its kitchen. Exactly 6 days after my ever-so-stylish-late-grand-entrance, my mother was back in the kitchen cooking Christmas Eve Dinner for over 100 guests. Now if you have ever met my mother, this would be considered just another day’s work.
What many of you may not know, those readers of Leaving Out the Dull Parts who are new to the Fitz family, is that Nicky is a rock star in the kitchen. The food she can fling together at a rate of knots makes most people stare in awe at the deliciousnesses – yes, they are that delicious they need more ‘s’s’ – she places on the tables at meal times. Drawing inspiration from everyone – the great Julia Child, through Nigel Slater and on to Yotam Ottolenghi – Nicky will take a little flavour from each one and make it her own.
I have had a lifetime of memories around my mother’s table, be it at home as a family, or at Blues restaurant where she turned over 1000 covers a day, to inspiring recipes for the &Beyond cookbook, A Kitchen Safari, to finally sitting and planning every single mouthful an Angama Mara guest can pop in their mouth during the 12 times a day they might want to eat at our lovely lodge high up above the Maasai Mara.
And so now I sit here, once again in the guts 30 odd years later, watching my mother back in action in the kitchen. As babies, my sister and I would sit in the bain-maries in the Arniston Hotel kitchen banging wooden spoons oblivious to what was taking shape before our eyes. Today, I watch Mum, head chef Collins and the Angama Mara chef’ing team creating magic, not playing with wooden spoons, but rather taking notes and stealing tastes wherever I can…
It smells delicious…
Note from the Editor: As Kate says she was born in a chafing dish – well almost. Being a born story teller she does like to embellish here and there. During the first crazy days of taking care of guests in our not-quite-yet-finished kitchen she was firmly at her mother’s side – both hot, sweaty, exhausted, smelling like short order cooks from some sleazy fry-up joint in the back end of Nairobi and generally having a blast with the team of wonderful Angama Mara chefs.