The new executive chef at Victoria Falls River Lodge is looking forward to welcoming guests back to the lodge, once travel restrictions are lifted globally.
While the Lodge is currently closed due to the precautionary measures taken worldwide in the travel industry around the COVID-19 disease, Chef Dean Jones is looking forward to making many memorable and magical meals for visitors to Victoria Falls River Lodge.
“I believe food is art in an edible form. So, in that sense I always work backwards, whereby I imagine what a dish is going to look like in my head, make notes, and from there start putting ingredients and cooking methods in place in order to achieve an outcome as close to what I had imagined,” said Dean.
With Chef Dean in the kitchen, visitors can expect a dining experience that is fresh, of local influence, yet still elegant and keeping with the latest food trends. This would include making use of local, seasonal produce as much as possible, as well as incorporating local tradition and influence.
“African, and specifically Zimbabwean food differs from other continents’ because it is mostly organic – from the vegetables to the livestock. The produce we get here has more natural and earthy flavours due to it being farmed in wider, open spaces, with fewer pesticides and less genetically modified procedures. We might not get all the fancy ingredients restaurants in Europe, The UK and USA have on their menus, but what we do serve certainly is abundant in flavour and just as beautifully presented,” said Dean.
Growing up in a sociable farming community in the Chipinge area of Zimbabwe, Dean knew from the age of just 9-years old, when he made his first Malva Pudding [popular South African sponge dessert] all by himself, that he was born to be a chef.
“My Ouma (Grandmother) used to own a bakery when I was a toddler and I was always fascinated by the bread-making process: how – when mixed together – flour, yeast and water, along with other ingredients would produce this divine smelling and soft, airy textured bread. My Mom also used to cater for functions in the community and I loved getting involved with the catering process,” said Dean.
Dean saved up for seven years to be able to afford to enrol at the prestigious Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town, South Africa, where he qualified as a chef.
He spent just over a year working at The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais, with Chefs Margot Janse and Gerald Van der Valt, in the South African Winelands before he returned back home to Zimbabwe.
Most recently he opened and ran his own restaurant in Victoria Falls, where his creativity knew no limits – occasionally also even singing for his guests.
“That was definitely a highlight of my time at Dean’s. Sadly, but with no regrets, I have decided to close the Dean’s chapter of my life, with the most valuable lessons learnt, and move on to a happier and more creative environment at Victoria Falls River Lodge. I have the most amazing opportunity to teach and inspire those I get to work with in the kitchen,” said Jones.
Finally, we just had to ask what his all-time favourite meal is?
“I am a simple guy with a sophisticated pallet. But my favourite meal, time and time again, is a delicious, slow-cooked, pressed Pork Belly, with sweet potato and fresh garden vegetables with a delicious port wine reduction, followed by a traditional malva pudding and a cappuccino.”