Chef Pienaar

Singita’s Executive Chef Loraine Pienaar at Singita Ebony Lodge is talented, creative and passionate about being an executive chef.

Chef Pienaar

Fortunately for us, Chef Pienaar has agreed to answer some questions about working in this exotic luxury safari lodge, among the African “Big Five,” rated one of the world’s best dream destinations. Hope you enjoy the interview.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserve

 What is the best question you have ever had from guests?

 I had a guest once ask me, ”What kind of meat is oxtail?”

Who most influenced your love of cooking?

What inspired me was probably my grandma’s Sunday lunches. She went all out with 3 meats, 4 vegetables, 2 salads and 2 starches. The way it brought everyone (we are a lively bunch that loves and fights passionately) together; it was one place where all of us actually agreed. You can influence people with food.

Chef Pienaar

Where did you learn to cook?

I have to say Maze restaurant in London and the exeutive sous (later head chef of Maze Prague) took a lot of time teaching me. I learned about the science of cooking and that really really interests me.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserves

What is the process you go through to get new recipes on the menu for the restaurant?

I do not go sit down and create a dish. If I have to define the creation of dishes I will say it is a combination of books, TV shows and dreams. I am Afrikaans, but I dream in English and I am running a kitchen in three quarters of my dreams (or so my family say that has seen me sleep). The other part of creation is chatting to my team. There are so many different personalities in the kitchen all from different cultures and backgrounds. Different personalities and combinations compliment each other and we learn together.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserves

Do you do much cooking when you aren’t working?

I do believe not to take your work home (psychiatrists say it is unhealthy), but I do cook “homey” food at home. At home, friends and family all are chefs in the kitchen with me. Everyone adds their say ( not tolerated in the restaurant) with wine and laughter flowing.

Chef Pienaar

What is your favorite food you cook at home?

Shellfish – especially prawns or any tapas where it is very interactive and everyone is getting in there.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserve

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Changing someone’s life for even twenty minutes, eating a dish that makes you feel good and warm inside. When you get higher up the ladder you get to teach and inspire other chefs and change their future and the way they see themselves and food.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserves

Do you have some secret ingredient combinations that you use on a variety of  dishes that might be thought of as your signature spice?

Signature spice…really difficult when there are so many to use!!! I’ll take the easy way out and say salt. Salt makes everything taste better…even sweet cakes get salt. I also use a lot of fruit in my menus.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserve

What is your personal favorite dish on the menu?

Foie gras on thinly sliced ripe nectarines, pear and saffron chutney and buttery brioche. (Just have it once in your life and a small portion, then always yearn for more…it will never be as good as the first time.)

Chef Pienaar

Where do get most of your ingredients?

We try to get most of our produce local. Just outside the reserve we have a small local community that we promote and support. They set up a local vegetable garden which we buy from.

Chef Pienaar

Courtesy Singita Game Reserves

What are some fun tips or shortcuts for inexperienced chefs that you could suggest?

Experiment and taste everything you cook.

What is the most interesting food that you have ever cooked?

I did an experiment on what effect food and the different cooking methods have on someone. Not only aphrodisiacs,but also stimulants and moods. I will never admit to the guinea pigs.

NOTE

Personally, if you love to cook, I can’t think of a more exotic and adventuresome setting that that of exquisite Singita Ebony Lodge in South Africa. Our family looks forward to returning to Kruger National Park for another wildlife safari and sumptuous meals prepared by Chef Loraine Pienaar!

– The Gourmet Review

 

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