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There is many a thing that grabs your attention on Shambala, ranging from sightings on Game Drives to the different activities you can do once on the reserve. But sometimes it is quite appealing to just lounge around the lodge, and enjoy some good food whilst restoring your spirit and energy. The Shambala chefs pride themselves in providing you with some of the best local and exotic dishes there are to offer. Even better, they specifically accommodate you regarding any needs and wants you may have in coming out and discussing your preferences. To do this, the chefs need “quality ingredients”. Any chef will tell you that the secret to any quality dish is quality ingredients. On Shambala Private Game Reserve it is no different. Here the chefs strive to provide guests with the best plate of food possible, and in doing so we use our own self sustained vegetables. Yes, that’s right; Shambala has its very own vegetable garden! This makes life so much more exciting and as a chef, it must be a dream come true to be able to go down in the morning and pick all the fresh vegetables they could ever want from their own back yard. We go from plant to plate within a matter of hours. We like to call it ‘A Vegetative Dream’. It really is a great benefit and a privilege to have our own vegetable garden. But maintaining such a desired garden isn’t always an easy job. It all comes down to the hard work and gentle care of the gardeners/farm workers that dedicate their time and patience to growing these deliciously tasting plants. These recognised men of Shambala were previous elephant handlers, and have now learnt to part ways from these large mammals and form a new relationship with the vegetables. Shadrack Ndlovu, the main man doing a lot of the planting and upkeep in the garden, is very enthused by his vegetables. With the surname ‘Ndlovu’ meaning elephant, Shadrack had originally spent a lot of time with the elephants, but he has now found a new loved passion in planting vegetables. He’s enthusiasm inspires many a person and he’s knowledge encourages everyone working with him. He does a fabulous job, and the end result is the vegetables in my kitchen being readied to plate. Having our own garden allows us to have complete control over what is grown, how much of it is grown and of course how it is grown. Whether it’s marinating our plump ripe tomatoes along with basil and shallots in white balsamic vinegar to create a pressed tomato terrine as a light starter, or simply using the vibrant reds and yellows that we get from swiss chard to bring some colour to an otherwise brown fillet steak; the possibilities are endless. We have since planted cantaloupes and watermelon in the garden thus expanding our range of choice from just vegetable to fruit as well, and as you might guess I am extremely excited for our first harvest of those fruit. The garden is mainly organic and is maintained through the hard work and passion from all the staff involved and you can literally taste it; the crunch of the lettuce, the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and the scintillating fragrance of freshly picked basil. It all comes together on the plate put before you. Ranger Sean Jones Shambala Private Game Reserve