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From the Front Door

Collins Randiga, or “Col-loh” as most know him, takes on his biggest role yet — going from Head Chef of the Mara to General Manager of Amboseli
Above: The man of the Amboseli moment

‘We’ve found our chef!’ I remember the late Steve Fitz shouting excitedly across the Angama office, sometime back in 2015. Somewhat surprised, we questioned his certainty: Who was this man? Did he really know how to cook? How could Steve possibly be so sure? Food has always been such an emotive part of Angama’s story, how could he possibly be so sure of such an important appointment?

We were looking for someone who wasn’t set in their ways. Someone who could be trusted to lead a team of Kenyan chefs and deliver an evolving menu without it ever being too much trouble. There would be picnics aplenty, special requests, dietary requirements from across the globe: vegan, Kosher, pescatarian, Indian, Chinese… you name it, and we wanted our team of chefs to be ready for it all. We were looking for someone who — under Nicky’s steady guidance — could inspire both a love of food and a love of cooking, delivering it day in and day out across two guest-facing kitchens without missing a beat, or any buffet in sight, whilst not forgetting about our beloved staff canteen. In short, we were looking for what at times felt like a unicorn. And a Kenyan one at that.

Collins in the early days, a whiz at everything thrown his way (stokbrood and all)

And yet, that’s exactly what we found that fateful day in the Mara. This is how Nicky describes it: ‘Just over eight years ago I was interviewing for the head chef for Angama Mara when in strolled Collins, as cool, calm and collected as can be. In short order, I asked him: "Have you cooked for guests paying $xxxx before? Have you run a kitchen that is strictly a la carte? Have you managed a team of 17 chefs preparing 3 meals a day for 60 guests? Have you heard of Ottolenghi?" The answer to all of these was a cheery, "No". Collins was totally nonplussed by my questions. How could I resist appointing this man who I instinctively knew would deliver all and more than I could ever have asked for? We worked side by side in the Angama Mara kitchen for the first two years of welcoming guests. We laughed, we cried, we celebrated, we experimented, we failed and we succeeded in our quest of delighting guests with every mouthful. I know he will lead the Angama Amboseli team with the same cool, calm and collected manner — but this time from the front door and not the kitchen pass.’

Nicky and Collins at her retirement party in June 2022

A professional kitchen can be a very stressful place. Yet, somehow, Collins has always managed to keep the peace and the team singing together as one. Of course, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, yet Collins’ ability to keep a sense of humour in the midst of a crisis was so refreshing that it has now been written into every Angama job description. Arancini Tuesday? There’s never a crisis to be wasted and always a story to be told.

There's always joy whenever Collins is around

During his time at Angama Mara, it became apparent that he knew how to lead others and unite behind a common cause, and had no problem taking the initiative to start something new — especially when it was close to his heart. As football naturally follows food, he promptly became the Manager of the Angama Football Club. Not content with just pulling the strings from the sidelines, he took it upon himself to revive the Mara Cup — a huge effort to co-ordinate camps and lodges from across the Mara into an extremely competitive annual football tournament, with professional referees from Nairobi no less.

Leading Angama Football Club to victory in the 2022 Mara Cup

Besides the charming, affable and confident chef, there was another personality making waves behind the scenes. Slowly and quietly, without seeking recognition nor reward, he went about settling disputes, calming tempers and ensuring the entire Angama Mara team remained united. Because of this, he took on the mantle of ‘Angama Way Officer’, both mascot and keeper of our values and it’s a virtue which I believe is the reason why our Maasai landlords in Kimana have already named him “Saruni” — ‘he who solves others’ problems’.

The day of ground breaking, a proud papa
Keeping a firm eye (and smile) on the building progress

Is there anyone else better placed to be trusted with the day-to-day operations of Angama Mara’s new sibling, Angama Amboseli? With a deep understanding of the Angama Way, we trust him to find the balance in opening and running a lodge that is representative of the Kimana community and one that our community partners are proud of, to tell the Big Life story, to celebrate the Maasai and Kenyan culture of Kajiado County and to delight our guests of course, from the front door — with a can-do-attitude and a quiet chuckle never too far away.

This story doesn’t end here, of course. With Angama Amboseli opening in November, Collins’ next chapter is only just beginning. We’re all right behind him and wish him well.

Notes from the Editor:

There have been many well wishes from the Angama team, but the following two stood out:
 
‘From day one, when you hired me as your assistant in the kitchen, we have worked well together and achieved the Angama food philosophy of keeping things simple but delicious, unfussy, always generous and joyful and sometimes surprising. You were always there for the team and the entire lodge in managing sports, solving issues, being a financial adviser and supporting the community. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that through your remarkable leadership, you will take Amboseli and its team to another level. Good luck Chef!’ — Chef Evans Ondara, Collins’ successor as Head Chef of Angama Mara
 
‘Collins, you have been such a pillar in the Angama Mara story from inception and it has been a joy watching you grow. From your days as the Chair of the Board of Management, your organizational skills whilst relaunching the Mara Cup, your negotiation skills and your unique way of manoeuvring through tricky situations make you a great choice to lead our new sibling and it is inspirational for us all to witness your hard work give birth to success. Collins, your will to push and never give up has brought you this far, you deserve this and more. We shall miss you in the Mara. You got this!’ — Azei Lago, General Manager of Angama Mara

Filed under: Stories from Amboseli

Tagged with:

Angama Chefs , Angama Family , Angama Pride , Angama Team

About: Steve Mitchell

Steve is CEO and Co-Founder of Angama. Responsible for the vitality of the business along with the stewardship of the Angama Foundation, he is besotted with African travel and is always on the lookout for more ways to delight our guests. When he’s not replying to emails, he’s probably somewhere along Kilifi Creek with his three lovely children.

Browse all articles by Steve Mitchell Meet the angama team

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Join the Conversation (11 comments)

Comments (11):

alex lenkishon

12 October 2023

Following the article as I learn more about Angama...

Jeremiah Leshan panina

9 October 2023

We are really love the great achievement from Collins. I believe that Angama Amboseli will transform Amboseli community. We will be positively working day in day out with you guys. @[email protected]

Isaac wambugu

7 October 2023

It was 20yrs ago when our road of life crossed each other on the line of football and my life changed forever, Mr Collo became my coach and mentor in and off the pitch, I just loved his leadership qualities and methods, he is the only one person upto date who managed to bring the whole community together through football to change lives and our community outlook, many of us completed school through our football talent that he took his time to nurture, I am where I am because someone like Collins took his time to bring us together to nurture and raise us as his own children so that we could become somebody in life, big up coach,father,mentor and live changer. I still remember your favorite quote when we were growing up “AGENDA,VISION AND GROWTH HUSUKUMWA NA WATU WAKIKUJA PAMOJA,UKI-MANAGE KULETA WATU WENGI PAMOJA UTA-ACHIEVE HARAKA” Collins believes in unifying people and community

Bernard Omondi

6 October 2023

Collins or 'coaches' as he is popularly known has been an inspiration and mentor to many. Over the years he has touched many with his selflessness,kindness and servant leadership mode of leading. A very good natured fellow who is always warm and full of laughter. Not even the sky will be the limit! Keep soaring!

Dominic kinyanjui muteria

4 October 2023

Collins is a very dedicated servant of mara..We are proud to share him with you guys.. Know him as a humble down to earth brother... Praying for your well being God bless...

Victor Oduor

2 October 2023

Congratulations on this incredible achievement Chef Collins! This is a testament to your exceptional talent, hard work, and dedication to your craft. We know how much effort you put into delighting the Angama guests every single day. You are an inspiration to many of us, and Team Angama is extremely proud to see you taking over your new role as Angama Amboseli General manager! you've done an amazing job in your current role and I know you're going to grow even more in this next position. Congratulations!

Peter

1 October 2023

As Mr. Collins embarks on this new chapter as the General Manager at Angama Amboseli, we extend our heartfelt congratulations. This appointment is a testament to his remarkable journey, his dedication to excellence, and his unwavering commitment to making a difference. Mr. Collins, you are not just a chef; you are an artist. You are not just a manager; you are a leader. You are not just a sports enthusiast; you are a team builder. You are not just a conservation advocate; you are a steward of nature. You are not just a listener; you are a mentor. Your journey thus far has been inspiring, and we eagerly anticipate the heights you will reach in your new role. Angama Amboseli is fortunate to have you as its General Manager, and we are privileged to celebrate your achievements and the positive impact you continue to make in the world. Here's to Mr. Collins, a true renaissance soul who embodies excellence in all that he does. Congratulation

Pythias matuku

1 October 2023

In Angama everything is great and up to required standards globally. The management team in Angama have all abilities to make every team happy regardless of their moods.

Allan onyango

1 October 2023

Collo is one hardworking guy have ever come cross... the guy has passion...he is a go getter... hardworking and 💯 percent organised. You just can't make this up... collo go extra harder and show the world what you are made of.

Irene Wanja

1 October 2023

Collins is truly one of the most remarkable individuals I've had the privilege of meeting. His passion for what he does and his heart of gold drive him to go the extra mile to bring smiles to people's faces. His willingness to make sacrifices for others speaks volumes about his character. I wholeheartedly recommend him for any opportunity, as his dedication and excellent work deserve recognition in any setting.

Fredrick Otieno

1 October 2023

The passion collo have for his job is out of this world , if not the best then one of the best of this generation , it is a journey that started long-time ago and not only at the kitchen but Collo is a team leader who thrives in anything he plan , not forgetting the Mara Cup which is now one of the best organised tournament in our country , as he starts a new journey of managing Amboseli Mara we can only wish him a good health as we all know he will guide it to the top , May God bless you with good health and prosperity in your new journey Collins Randiga .

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