August 2022

Bush Gourmet meets New Nordic:
A Series of Chefs’ Tables in Livingstone, Zambia

Situated in the middle of an indigenous woodland overlooking the Zambezi River is one of Livingstone’s most exclusive – and remote – food experiences. SavannaBel – Bush Gourmet offers a bespoke, all-inclusive, five-course dining experience for a maximum of twelve people on a working farm in the Zambezi Valley, upriver from Victoria Falls.

Now, in a limited series of three Chefs’ Tables, Annabel Hughes Aston, the award-winning chef, organic gardener and forager, who created the food experience, will be collaborating with award-winning Danish chef, Nicklas Buus Nielsen, who relocated to Zambia with his family in 2020.

“I met Chef Nicklas at an event in Lusaka a couple of years ago and we have been looking for ways to collaborate ever since,” said Chef Annabel. “Both of us are unswerving in our support and use of hyperlocal, sustainable ingredients that are accessible to everyone; food that, with a little imagination, can be produced in any kitchen be it in the village or a gourmet restaurant.”

Chef Nicklas brings with him the principles of the New Nordic kitchen. “When he first told me about the New Nordic culinary movement I had little idea of what it was besides a vague knowing of Noma, arguably Denmark’s most renowned fine dining restaurant. Noma was famous for its laser-focus on local, sustainable, seasonal food, and had topped the World’s Best Restaurant multiple times,” said Chef Annabel. “I didn’t know that Noma and New Nordic were synonymous with one another, or that the movement’s basic tenets mirrored that of my Bush Gourmet concept.”

While heading up one of Norway’s top restaurants, Chef Nicklas steered its move away from classic French and Italian haute cuisine to New Nordic, and won the World’s Most Northern Gourmet Restaurant soon after. In all the high-end kitchens he has worked in since he has applied its principles of purity, season, ethics, health, sustainability and quality. Zambia is no exception. “My Zambian/Danish wife, Tasha, and I decided on a scene change as we wanted more family time with our two children. While Tasha works as a medical doctor, I have been building a network of local producers and learning much about the myriad indigenous and wild ingredients native to Zambia. I feel the time is right to apply my culinary experience and the New Nordic principles to the modern Zambian kitchen,” he said.

Chef Annabel, meanwhile, has always been an advocate for hyperlocal, plant-forward, sustainable dining. She has spent the past ten years, since moving to Livingstone, developing an organic garden and experimenting with, and fusing, wild and indigenous ingredients with what she grows. She uses locally-produced dairy, meat and fish, while the garden, the market, the village and the wilderness make up the mainstay of her pantry: fresh organic garden produce, indigenous heirloom grains, beans and seeds, bush fruits, wild tree nuts, wild mushrooms, legumes, roots, leaves and more, which she crafts into ever-changing menus according to the seasons.

There is a large focus on community empowerment and sustainable harvest practice in Chef Annabel’s ethos. Poverty alleviation through fundraising for accessible water and solar irrigation for small-scale gardens; collaborating with neighbouring villagers on sustainability and best practice methods for the utilisation of wild edibles; information and knowledge sharing, discussion and partnership opportunities, is critical to the success of her Bush Gourmet concept. “It is my sincere hope that by promoting the use of these inimitable, and largely unexplored, natural resources—this wild and indigenous food—the local economy will also be enriched,” she said.

Bush Gourmet meets New Nordic collaboration

The ‘Bush Gourmet meets New Nordic’ collaboration will include a series of three Chefs’ Tables held on September 21 and 23 at 13.00 each day, and September 24, 2022 at 17.00. With a maximum of 12 guests per sitting, the tables will be set in a contemporary farmstead deep in a Kalahari woodland, the source not only of Chef Annabel’s foraged pantry but also an integral element in the success of her organic garden. A ‘surprise’ pre fixe bush gourmet menu will be paired with singular Cape wines provided by Under the Influence (Africa).

Allister Kreft, CEO of Under the Influence, who is also a winemaker in the Cape, said: “We are so excited and grateful to be collaborating with Annabel and Nicklas in this ground-breaking and world-class food and wine experience, in the most beautiful location, with carefully curated and sourced menus.”

Reservations

For reservations, please contact Annabel Hughes Aston at annabel@annabelhughes.com or +260 962 07995 (WhatsApp). The all-inclusive price is USD $125.00 per person. Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, and payment in advance is required to reserve a seat. Tickets are selling fast, therefore booking early is recommended to avoid disappointment. Transfers to and from Livingstone can be arranged through a trusted partner, as well as accommodation, airport transfers, and other activities for those who are coming from out of town. *Please note that dietary requirements are essential.