As a proud Relais & Châteaux property – currently the only hotel in Cape Town with the privilege of this title – Ellerman House shares its core values with more than 580 exceptional hotels and restaurants around the world. In addition to fulfilling the association’s criteria of excellence, members of Relais & Châteaux are distinguished by their warm and genuine hospitality, celebration of local culture and passion for an elevated culinary experience.
This commitment to “the haute couture of gourmet cuisine” is perhaps the defining feature of Relais & Châteaux properties, renowned as they are for offering thrilling, memorable meals in an idyllic setting. Our recently-appointed Head Chef, Kieran Whyte, relishes the challenge, and, together with Culinary Director, Peter Tempelhoff – himself a celebrated and long-time member of the Relais & Châteaux family – is responsible for creating moments of delight and surprise for our guests in the dining room.
As part of our relationship with Relais & Châteaux and in the spirit of sharing and mutual enrichment, Kieran recently paid a week-long visit to Royal Chundu near Victoria Falls; Zambia’s first and only Relais & Châteaux property.
This award-winning luxury lodge on the banks of the Zambezi sees food as an integral part of Zambian culture, with every meal giving guests a taste of the region’s distinct flavours, ingredients and customs. Head Chef, George Nalisa, and his team of Zambian chefs, bring the art of dining to life, telling the stories of the land and its people through the lens of classic French cooking. However, the exquisite dishes served in this tranquil hideaway belie the relative remoteness of its location and the obstacles this poses for the kitchen!
Chef Kieran’s first introduction to this unique set of challenges was a shopping list for spices and Nespresso coffee pods from Chef George – enough to fill a 24kg bag! – which caused a bit of a delay at customs on his arrival in Livingstone. Unlike our fortunate position in a bustling city with access to almost any ingredient one could imagine, Royal Chundu sits 30km away from the nearest town – a lively but relatively small community with only a handful of suppliers and one basic supermarket.
Undeterred by these circumstances, Chef George and his colleagues are masters of creativity and ingenuity, relying on a network of local farmers and fishermen for fresh supplies as well as enjoying the herbs and vegetables from an on-site kitchen garden. These ingredients feature on a range of dishes that make up a constantly-changing menu celebrating Zambian cuisine, with meals served in various dining locations throughout the lodge. From the main dining room to al fresco seating on the outdoor decks, private in-room dining, a traditional boma dinner or sitting under the branches of a great baobab tree, every culinary touchpoint is a masterclass in elegance and art de vivre.
It was an extremely rewarding experience for Chef Kieran – not only getting to visit Zambia, spend time at Royal Chundu and see Victoria Falls for the first time but being fully immersed in the local culture allowed him to gain a more meaningful understanding of the culinary landscape of this vibrant and colourful part of Africa. He was able to demonstrate new skills and techniques for the chefs at the hotel while learning about the history and significance of food in the region, sharing ideas and knowledge that will now doubt enhance the dining experience in both Relais & Châteaux properties.
Remarking on the warmth and generosity of the staff at Royal Chundu, Chef Kieran was extremely touched by the friendly, happy demeanour of everyone he met and their openness in sharing everything they love about their home – an attitude with which all of us at Ellerman House can wholeheartedly relate.
The romance and adventure of Royal Chundu forms part of a special Rejuvenating Rendezvous promotion in partnership with Ellerman House and the Leeu Collection in the Cape Winelands. A celebration of culture, cuisine and community, this itinerary takes guests from Cape Town to Franschhoek and Livingstone, providing a showcase of Southern Africa’s most iconic destinations. Learn more »