Along with incredible game sightings and luxurious accommodation, guests at the Thornybush Game Reserve can look forward to charming hospitality and delicious food while on safari with us. With this in mind we are pleased to introduce the man behind the frying pan at Thornybush Lodge – Solly Mangena.
Solly has been wowing guests from the kitchens of the lodge since 2004. Of Shangaan origin, Solly is well placed to infuse every dish he creates with the unmistakable taste of home, especially for our local visitors, while international guests are easily won over by his African interpretation of all their favourites.
Solly has spent time in some of South Africa’s best kitchens, and with over 18 years’ experience behind him, he is well-qualified to add a personal stamp to every dish he creates.
Hailing from a small village in Limpopo, Solly’s passion for the catering industry was ignited at the age of 15 when visiting his brother-in-law at a lodge in Magoebaskloof. Here he became enchanted with the inner workings of the kitchen, taking every chance to ask questions and pitch in where possible.
His humble attitude, hard work and willingness to learn eventually earned him a place in the scullery of the same lodge when he left school, and ultimately alongside the chefs at this premier establishment.
An opening at Singita in the Kruger National Park allowed Solly to fulfill his dream of working in the bush, and from there it was a natural progression for him to join the team at Thornybush, having honed both his cookery and his people skills to perfection.
Solly’s culinary creations, refined by his studies at the Prue Leith Academy and membership of the Chaine de rotisserie are matched by his easy-going humble attitude.
He loves to use fresh local ingredients, especially herbs, at every opportunity and is especially fond of whipping up a curry. However, he can produce any dish required with pleasure and flair, and looks forward to the challenge of preparing meals for those with special dietary preferences.
Solly is a devoted husband and father to his wife and two daughters who live in the village of Sikoro, near Tzaneen, and is proud to reveal that both of his daughters are currently studying at the University of Pretoria.
Be sure to spend some time chatting with our charismatic executive chef while staying at Thornybush Lodge and you may get to learn some more of his secrets.