Khaki Chef is the brainchild of Wildman Safaris – a specialist tour operator, and Kirsty Price – a Cordon Bleu graduate of Silwood Kitchen’s School of Cookery. When society’s fascination with farm-to-table cooking became increasingly popular, Khaki Chef designed a range of customisable experiences, where a scintillating fusion of artisanal food and synergistic safaris remained at the core of each tour.
From 3-night beach safaris to 6-night bush expeditions, Khaki Chef is able to cater for the needs of a wide and diverse audience. We took part in Khaki Chef’s “Midlands Meander Cooking Safari” which is the perfect, day-long journey into the world of foodie wanderlust. Compact, convenient and chock full of bona fide adventure – one day in the Midlands is all you really need when you’re with the right people.
Our day began at 8 am, where a delightful meet-and-greet took place over cappuccinos. Our designated private chef began to brief us on the day’s activities. I listened in awe as our chef divulged the range of ingredients needed for our lavish 3-course meal.
Our first stop led us to Gillian Milne of Country Bounty. Gillian is the owner of a thriving micro-greenery that operates within her private home in the local community. Equipped with a fully charged camera and a nifty basket to house my produce, I was eager to harness the skills of my inner hunter-gatherer. As a city-dweller, the prospect of foraging for fresh, organic ingredients appealed to me in a truly significant way. It was wholly satisfying to know that I would be cooking with locally sourced ingredients grown on farms that are central to the close-knit Midlands community.
Admittedly, I did fear that my urbanisation would render me useless in the foraging department, but thanks to the expertise of our guides, I eventually found my way to fresh food heaven – where I harvested enough fragrant herbs and cruciferous vegetables to last a lifetime!
With a basket full of baby Pak Choi, Spinach and ruby red Beetroot, we headed towards our second stop on the tour: Essenwood micro-dairy. Surrounded by rolling hills and lush green pastures, Megan Wood enjoys living among her impressive herd of grazing cattle. Majestic and well-nurtured, these colourful cows are the secret to Essenwood’s luxuriously creamy selection of dairy products. From homemade gelato to well-aged cheeses, our trip to the micro-dairy provided essential ingredients that were later used to perfect our indulgent entrées and decadent desserts.
By facilitating their journeys within private residences, Khaki Chef allowed us to engage in exclusive interactions with local business owners. In fact, every single farm, supplier and home we visited is only accessible through a Khaki Chef experience, thus adding an element of exclusivity to the overall journey.
Our meander eventually led us to Kelmscott Farm – an idyllic pastoral masterpiece, owned by our gracious hosts, Mike and Erroleen Williams. As we ventured across the expansive farm, we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautifully decorated Gin and Tonic stand. These spontaneous cocktails offered us a burst of citrusy refreshment as we chatted against the background of our picturesque natural surroundings. A scenic stroll led us to the charming country home in which we would prepare our highly-anticipated 3-course meal. The alluring aromas emanating from the kitchen were soft and buttery, reminiscent of the hearty, comfort food the Midlands has become famous for.
Our hosts were the epitome of country charisma, warmly embracing our group with their signature brand of familial hospitality. Our entire group was thrilled to be involved in the actual food preparation, wherein we were taught to chop and slice veggies like a pro! We loved participating in Chef Kirsty’s educational cooking class, wherein we learned specialised tips and tricks, for example: the art of plating food aesthetically!
Our starter was a decadent baked Brie accompanied by local Gooseberry and Kiwi Compote, served on a bed of watercress and baby spinach. The luxuriously creamy Brie was perfectly balanced by the tart citrusy zest of the berry compote. The starter was also paired with a delightfully fruity Nederberg Sauvignon Blanc. As we worked with delicate phyllo pastry and lashings of butter from the micro-dairy, our group had an opportunity to spend quality time together, exchanging playful banter as we prepared our farm-style feast.
For our main course, we were treated to a pine nut and caper-stuffed, slow roasted leg of lamb accompanied by minted mange tout and braised Pak Choi. The lamb was simply sublime and truly melted in your mouth. The marriage of the lamb with mint-infused vegetables and indulgent parmesan-baked Pak Choi was enhanced by a velvety smooth pairing of Alvi’s Drift Shiraz. Dining outdoors provided a peaceful, rustic atmosphere for our leisurely farm-to-table experience.
With just enough room for dessert, we embarked on a 3-tier mission to sweet satisfaction. Homemade honeycomb, Turkish delight and almond nougat were stacked before us like a candy-coated mountain of Midlands’ delicacies. Accompanied by a selection of jams and local cheeses – kindly provided by Indezi Farms – we indulged in perfectly blended Irish coffees as we reminisced on the day’s events.
With our minds, bodies and souls well and truly nourished, we successfully achieved our goal of eating our way across the Midlands. We were honoured to be invited into the actual homes of genuine Midlands folk, and it was humbling to learn about the intense workload they each master in order to earn an honest living. It was truly a powerful exposé into food, travel and the beauty of simplicity.