No One is Born a Great Cook, But a Great Cook is Born by Starting to Cook

by jabulani safari blog

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They key ingredient to this blog is Chef Henlu. Meet him in our Q&A below! Henlu says…

When I first started my career as a chef, I would have never imaged working at Jabulani. My first few years as a chef were spent mostly in hotels and catering kitchens here in South Africa, but I had always wanted to work abroad and one day I got that opportunity! For five years, I worked and lived in Saudi Arabia. I was working for an airline catering company and for the first two years I worked as an on-board chef. This allowed me to travel to a few countries around the world and experience different foods and cultures, which helped me with my own skills in the kitchen.

For the last few years, I was transferred to the pastry and bakery department for the airline, where I learned how to manage a large-scale production kitchen where the smallest decision makes the biggest difference, from time management to managing up to 65 staff alongside my head chef and fellow sous chef.

When I decide to come back to South Africa, I wanted to see what it would be like to work at a safari lodge. I was lucky enough to get an interview at Jabulani and I’ve been working here for more than six months and have been enjoying it ever since.

Has food always been a big part of your life? Where did your interest in cooking come from?

Yes, cooking has always been a part of my life. It started from a young age as cooking was always a family activity where we would talk and laugh and spend family time together.

Henlu on the right with Executive Chef Alex.

What is the meal you most enjoy cooking, and why?

I enjoy preparing a roasted leg of lamb, because I always cook it for my family or friends in the holidays.

How do you handle stress in the kitchen?

I deal with stress relatively well in the kitchen. If I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I usually excuse myself and take a few minutes to clear my head and return to the kitchen to solve the issue at hand.

What inspires you in life and work?

I’m inspired by my father. He always taught me and my brother to work hard and to be able to stand on our own two feet, and to fix things instead of replacing them.

What makes the Jabulani kitchen different from others?

What makes it different is that we have the freedom to create new and exciting dishes every day and we are able to go out and talk to the guests and hear their feedback. This is a beautiful aspect. To work with the guests by finding out what they like and will enjoy eating at Jabulani.

How has your outlook on food and cooking developed while working at Jabulani? 

My creativity has improved a lot and I have learnt more about how to use ingredients to prepare new dishes, how to control ingredients and to keep wastage to a minimum.

What are the moments of living and working at Jabulani that mean the most to you?

Being part of a team that supports you on a daily basis

Is there anything that you’ve learnt as a chef that you think helps you with other aspects of your life as well?

I have learnt to be patient and to face my problems head on, communication is key!

Best meal and drink on the menu at Jabulani?

I would have to say the French toast served at breakfast!

How do you believe places like Jabulani can help make the world a better place?

In the past few months I’ve learned all about how Jabulani is making the world a better place with the elephant orphanage, HERD, and assisting local schools. All we can do is try to help wherever we can, sometimes the smallest steps make the biggest foot prints.


  1. Great Q & A. Chef Henlu, very insightful and just a tad informative… ☺️😊. I’m very interested in knowing if you make stuff grape leaves. Also can you cater to people with gluten allergy and lactose intolerant?

    Looking forward to reading more…….

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