When your eyes have finally stopped taking in a million memorable moments at the beauty of Saseka Tented Camp, it’s your tastebuds that will get their wow-factor next… and who is responsible for this culinary art? Our Group Executive Chef, Odette Olivier.
Our Thornybush Marketing team sat down with Odette between planning and consulting her visually inspiring and equally delicious lunchtime meals to ask her about her journey into food, and what keeps inspiring her in the kitchen.
Meet Chef Odette
What’s your role in the kitchen at Saseka Tented Camp?
I am the Group Executive chef at Saseka. I assist with menu development and training across the group, with a core focus on uplifting our food experiences.
Where have your culinary experiences taken you before joining Thornybush?
I worked on cruise ships for 2 years where I hosted cooking shows explaining the science and history behind the food. Plus having also gained some incredible experiences at well-known restaurants in Cape Town, namely De Grendel and Steenberg Wine Estate.
What are you passionate about in your spare time? Does it involve being in the kitchen?
Haha, yes and no. My boyfriend, Stehann, and I share a great passion for food. We love experimenting at home in Cape Town but you almost always will find us on a wine farm during our off days. We are big on spontaneous adventures which made us create our “adventure jar” in our house, so when we are bored or have free time, we draw a card and go and explore something new.
What’s your favourite thing about working at Saseka Tented Camp? Any special moments that stand out?
My favourite thing about Saseka Tented Camp is the tranquillity. There is something so special about waking up in the Lowveld bush in the mornings. I often make myself an espresso and just sit in the lounge, before any of the other staff arrives, and set my intentions for the day.
I can also say, it wouldn’t be a normal day at Saseka without a bit of drama, and by that I mean the hyenas. They also love our cooking, and on occasion when we are not looking they are cheeky enough to come inside and investigate.
Do you have a favourite meal-time? What’s your favourite meal to eat?
I am not a big breakfast eater, I tend “graze-on-the-go”, especially if I am working. But a meal-time that’s got my attention would have to be dinner. I am Afrikaans, we are social and there is something about dinner time that just brings people together. (Plus it’s when I have the most time to concentrate on the meal I am eating.)
What’s your favourite meal to eat?
If I were to choose one meal to eat every day, it would be my boyfriend’s grilled cheese sandwich. It’s so humbling and on cold days, he serves it up with the most amazing tomato soup. Sometimes it’s the simple flavours that get your attention the most.
At Saseka Tented Camp we are making a motivated move in adding healthier meal options, why do you think this is important?
It goes with the old cliche, but it couldn’t be more true. It is all about balance – when we eat good (healthier) food, we feel good and more energised. We want our guests to feel fulfilled and inspired by healthier options because at the end of the day it adds to our message of mindfulness that we encourage for our guests.
What can guests expect from our “new” healthier menu?
I have created a more “Mediterranean” influence throughout the menu. It is lighter and much more flavour driven, so don’t expect anything boring. We only use local seasonal ingredients and we are fortunate to buy from an amazing local farm 1000 Herbs which is in the area.
Our offering ranges from sugar-free goji berry granola in the morning to, vegan bobotie, green pancakes, falafel buddha bowls, rice paper spring rolls, and my absolute favourite our Moroccan evening. Offering homemade taglines, hummus, babaganoush and pickled carrot salad.
Do you have a favourite recipe from our new menu to share?
Oh you’re in for a treat, this is one of my favourite Mediterranean inspired dishes that is so easy to make at home for a family dinner or to wow your friends at a braai. We get so many compliments about this dish, so I am so excited to be able to share it.
Introducing the Keto friendly and deliciously healthy inspired recipe from one of my inspirational chefs, Yotam Ottolenghi.
Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
You will need:
1 Sweet Potato (per table)
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes, and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Carefully slice each sweet potato along the tops, stopping 1cm from the bottom.
- Be careful not to apply too much pressure or you may cut straight through.
- Pour over the oil and season with salt and black pepper
- Place potatoes onto a tray and roast at 180 degrees until soft. Plus-minus 45 minutes.
- When the sweet potatoes are soft, remove the foil and roast until golden brown and crispy.
- Serve with turmeric yoghurt, honey-sesame dressing and pomegranate pearls.
Honey – Sesame Dressing
You will need:
2 tbsp Ginger, grated
2 tbsp Garlic, grated
1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Honey
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
3 tsp Sesame Oil
3 tbsp Tahini Paste
5 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
5 tbsp Poppy Seeds
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/3 cup Sunflower Oil
1 tsp Fine Salt
1 tsp Crushed Black Pepper
- Add all ingredients together in a bowl and whisk very well.
***This dressing is not gluten-free as it contains soy sauce