Tag Archives: Talented Chefs in Africa

The People of Singita: Michael Matera

August 01, 2013 - Cuisine,Experience,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Michael Matera, sous chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

You would be correct in assuming that some of the most memorable experiences for guests visiting Singita involve exhilarating wildlife sightings on early morning game drives, the spectacular local cuisine put together by our talented kitchen teams and the breathtaking landscapes in which our lodges and camps are situated. While this is certainly true, what guests remark on most often is the warm and attentive manner of our friendly staff members. The people of Singita are its most valuable asset, as they quietly go about ensuring that each of our visitors experience the most sophisticated luxury safari experience on earth.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the stories of some of Singita’s most interesting characters, from field guides and trackers to lodge managers and chefs, many of whom have overcome enormous personal challenges along the way. First up is Michael Matera, who is now a chef at Singita Grumeti:

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

Michael Matera and Frank Louw

How did you get started at Singita?
As the oldest son, it was always very important to have a career in order to support the rest of the family. I was working at VIP Safari Club when I applied for work at Singita Sabora Tented Camp, where I was accepted as a grounds attendant. Every day I would clean the pool, look after the camp grounds, fill kerosene lanterns and fulfil any other small duties the manager would give me.

The chef there at the time was called Andy Clay, he noticed my hard work and determination and soon I started helping in the kitchen. Initially I was responsible for cooking the staff meals, as I could not speak English and had limited cooking skills. Andy noticed that I would always work in the kitchen after hours and was very keen to learn, so he very kindly sent me to English classes in Arusha. I gave the short two-week course my all, and on my return was told that I could start working in the main guest kitchen. I was so happy and that is how my cheffing career began.

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

What inspired you to be a chef?
I was intrigued with all the interesting produce that use to come into the kitchen. I had never seen things like lobster, prawns and other exotic seafood before and I found their shapes, smells and flavours fascinating. That is what inspired me to learn more.

What would be the highlight of your career so far?
Definitely being awarded the title of Tanzanian Chef of the Year last year. Nothing can replace that feeling!

Michael Matera tending the kitchen garden

Who is your favourite chef and why?
Gordon Ramsay. He is a very strict chef so when you see him on the TV you know you should always be careful in the kitchen.

What country would you love to travel to for cooking inspiration?
Italy! I love pasta and pizza and all the other Italian food.

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

The cuisine at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?
Coriander, you either love it or hate it. I LOVE it.

What do you love about Singita?
I love Singita for so many different reasons but I think I love it the most because it made me the person I am today. The training, teaching, opportunities, development and love for the staff is hard to find in any other company.

Michael currently works as Senior Sous Chef at Singita Sasakwa Lodge under Executive Chef, Frank Louw. Frank says: “It’s amazing how you can learn so much from someone you are supposed to be mentor to. Michael has the wonderful talent of making every task seem effortless while still achieving extraordinary results. His calm demeanor and ability to listen has taught me a side of humanity that every person should embrace and carry with them. He has proven to not only be a phenomenal chef, student, teacher and friend but an inspiration to so many other young Tanzanians wanting to make a change in their lives.”

Catch up on all food-related posts by reading through the Cuisine category on the blog, including some delicious locally-inspired recipes!

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What’s on the Menu at Singita Explore

June 08, 2011 - Cuisine,Experience

Catherine Garden, Sous Chef at Singita Grumeti Reserves, talks about the menu that she has created for Singita Explore, and about how much fun they are having cooking over an open campfire.


Singita Explore like all Singita locations has its own unique bush signature with elements that echo the feel and structure of the camp.  The simple yet comfortable is replicated within the cuisine.  Food is slightly more interactive as chefs cook eggs to order in front of guests, meals are prepared on the coals, and wood scented fires are very much a part of the camp ethos.  The kitchen creates the backdrop to camp life.  There are camping staples like potjies, barbecues, pot breads and the full cooked breakfast with the focus on unprocessed, wholesome food.

For lunch we love to spread out a tantalising smorgasbord of cold meats, cheeses served with pickled red onion and cucumber, raw beetroot relish, sesame bread sticks, rustic olive loaf, and a fresh, green salad.  A special hot item would be traditional pilau with kachumbari (local salad made of sliced tomato, onion, lemon juice and chilli) and Greek yoghurt.  We opt for delicious and light for our dessert selections – one of our favourites is roasted pineapple and strawberries with Almond praline cream.

For high tea at the camp we are creating simple but mouthwatering delights, such as a banana walnut loaf served with raspberry jam and butter.

After evening game drives, guests love to position themselves around the roaring campfire.  Nothing is more comforting as the evening settles in, than Stok brood (bread cooked over the fire by the guests themselves) dipped into chilli dipping sauce and savoured under the stars.

Then follows a full dinner feast of pork chops, lamb mishkaki (skewers), potato bake (creamy garlic potato), butternut chakalaka, and a garden salad.  There is always a little room leftover  for warmed apple crumble with vanilla custard.  Is your mouth watering yet?

Some of the menu items that are gaining the greatest rave reviews – oxtail potjie, chicken apricot sosaties and our famous chocolate Malva pudding.  We will have to share some recipes in the next blog articles, so keep watching this space.

For more information about our introductory offer at Singita Explore follow this link to read more.

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Dining at Singita

April 21, 2010 - Cuisine

Each Singita lodge and camp offers its own selection of enticing flavours.

All the Singita lodges and camps showcase South Africa’s diverse cooking methods. These methods are continually blended with the latest international culinary trends, influences and flavours to create an unforgettable dining experience for our guests. The result, of these unique combinations, is a series of spectacular dining experience at all nine Singita lodges and camps.

Dining at Singita Sasakwa Lodge

Our talented chefs (many of whom are from the surrounding local communities) combine prime homegrown produce with imported essentials to create the superb Singita cuisine, cuisine that is both delicious and wholesome.

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