Elephants can and actually do enter my kitchen from time to time - given, my kitchen is in the center of the wild bush.
I am an executive training chef in many different Exclusive Safari Camps and resorts throughout Africa. Most of my time is spent Between Botswana, Zambia and Namibia but recent trips have taken me to Rwanda and Kenya.
We are based in extremely remote locations throughout the country and the only way to get to almost every camp is by air in a small cessna aircraft - normally a two seater.
All of our supplies are flown in weekly so planning and logistics is exceptionally important to having all of the ingredients needed for the meals.
There are many challenges in this kind of position. We strive to plate gourmet world-class food in the middle of the bush with extremely limited resources such as no electricity, very basic machinery and wood burning fires. Yes, really - no gas and no electric, so we really have to plan ahead, improvise and adapt to cooking as the locals do, learning the basics of how to cook over an open fire.
It is amazing to see what can be produced from our little bush kitchen - not only is it a five-star dining experience under the stars, but our dishes combine native and European techniques and tastes.
Every now and again we have to contend with monkeys and baboons running through our kitchen, causing mayhem. Recently, one of our resident male monkeys managed to dash through an open door as our waitress had turned her back and the cheeky monkey landed right on top of our beautiful fresh mango cake for afternoon tea, forcing us to rush and bake a batch of cookies to get out to our guests!
Even worse is the occasional Hyena who will break into the kitchen late at night rummaging with their huge and incredibly strong jaws. Jimmy, our local hyena recently managed to chew his way through the kitchen door padlock. Unable to open the bolt, he continued to chew threw the hinges of the door itself, raiding all of the refrigerators and getting into our fresh goods inventory. The next day we were forced to order an emergency topup for more beef and lamb to be flown into camp.
It is one of the most exciting and challenging places to operate a kitchen - and it is also incredible just what can be achieved in such a remote area!
Only last weekend, service was interrupted between the kitchen and the dining room while Stompy, the resident Elephant, blocked the walkway from front-of-house to back-of-house, forcing our servers to walk a detour that was three-times as far.
We have to be on the look-out at all times because you never know when you might find a powerful, six-foot black Mamba snake behind the fridge, as we did recently. In this case it took us ten minutes to capture it but no matter what you're doing, when these wild animals enter the kitchen, it is the priority to deal with them or get around them.
Pests might be a problem for some restaurants but since reptiles travel in pairs, we're on the look-out for the black Mamba's friend!