Mombo Executive Chef
Zimbabwean Tonderai Chipfupi’s love for food started early in life, growing up in Harare, around women who were inspired to cook. His sister in particular, would bring her high school cooking class tasters home for Tondi, which he relished. His mom was also a role model, making traditional pastries and other comforting meals, his favourite being kapenta – a small fish from Lake Kariba.
Tondi’s grandmother loved his cooking and she told him that one day he would become a great chef. At the time though, it never dawned on him that it would become his profession.
As a young boy, Tondi experimented with vegetarianism for five years, following his dad’s eating preferences. He started experimenting with a lot of different vegetable dishes, devising new ways of enhancing them. Soon after leaving school, his dad sadly passed away, so Tondi took a leap of faith and headed to South Africa to make a life for himself.
He started as a waiter at a small family restaurant, but was quickly promoted to Chef. So impressed was his employer, he sponsored Tondi’s studies in Food and Beverage Management, and promoted him to Chef at one of Cape Town’s top restaurants.
For four years, Tondi gained more valuable experience in a number of top hotels and restaurants, before moving to Vancouver, Canada where he worked under Michelin-starred Chef Jean Georges at the famous Shangri-La Hotel.
In 2019 Tondi returned to Africa to share his knowledge and put down roots, joining Wilderness Safaris as a Relief Executive Chef for its Botswana Premier camps. Here he has grown from strength to strength, quickly becoming leader of the flagship camp’s kitchen.
“At Mombo, our guests’ food experience is a journey in itself, and we want them to feel truly indulged as they discover local ingredients and learn about this spectacular area. And personally, despite my years of experience, I love learning new skills and never miss an opportunity to try a new technique. I also greatly appreciate the chance to embrace these indigenous flavours and traditional processes”, says Tondi.