1 August 2019 – Wilderness Safaris Jao Camp has welcomed Executive Chef Chris Whitham to its team to help take Jao’s sophisticated pan-African food experience to even greater heights. Blending local Botswana fare with the latest innovations in world food culture, Jao’s chefs create expertly-prepared dishes that are exquisitely plated and served in a range of idyllic wilderness settings.
Since Jao’s re-opening in June 2019, Chris and his team have been working hard to present a range of unique signature dishes, focusing on the theatre of menus with a traditional twist. Local elements such as beef seswaa and morogo (African spinach) add to the experience, which offers a sophisticated yet relaxed culinary culture that focuses on Jao’s sense of place in the heart of the Okavango Delta.
“One of our most popular signature dishes is the seared smoked venison tenderloin served with harissa jus, chakalaka relish, salted foam, morogo and venison seswaa. Flexibility is key, however, and our team is on hand to craft the most memorable dining experiences for our guests, tailored to their specific preferences; whether it’s enjoying a meal under the stars, or a romantic, candle-lit dinner for two in the privacy of their villa, the spectacular views from all dining venues ensure that every meal is an event”, says Chris.
From elaborate six-course dinners to purposely light café lunches, and everything in between, Jao’s food offering is modern and healthy, with a range of dishes to please all palates. “Our dinner menu changes daily and we have made great efforts to accommodate guests’ dietary needs, including a personal favourite, vegan ginger crème brûlée with vegan brine meringue. Wine connoisseurs will be also be pleased with the selection in our wine cellar”, he adds.
Having trained at the prestigious Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in his home town of Durban, South Africa, Chris’s career has spanned many well-known five-star safari lodges and hotels. He jumped at the chance to join the Jao team and move to Botswana. As he comments, “I grew up hearing stories about the Delta from my family who were originally from here. It’s a dream come true to be based in such a unique wilderness setting, doing what I love for an organisation making a difference to conservation”.
Jao has been dedicated to the preservation of the Okavango Delta and its unique ecosystem – the waters and the dry land, and the plants, birds and wildlife that call it home – for over 20 years. Remaining deeply committed to driving sustainable ecotourism, the camp is 100% solar powered, and offers guests the ideal opportunity to not only experience a life-changing journey, but one that gives back to the conservation of Botswana’s diverse array of wildlife at the same time.