We spoke to chef Callie-Ann Gavazzi about her cooking, her career and her passion for all things Africa
What was the inspiration for your new book.
‘A Love Affair with Food in Africa’ is a dedication of my love for this beautiful place, inspired by my travel experiences and passion for food. Bringing Africa to the world is my mission in life and writing a book is just the beginning of what I have to share.
How did you get into cooking?
Food has been so important in my life, even if the eating came before the cooking! I grew up in a little town called Bulawayo, in southern Zimbabwe. My upbringing and childhood has everything to do with my journey thus far: my passion and love for Africa, wildlife, conservation and food are all products of my childhood. But as I grew older and was exposed to food cultures across the world, it steadily became an obsession.
Your CV is very eclectic: in the past you have managed a safari camp in Mozambique, studied acting for film at the New York Film Academy and appeared on Masterchef South Africa. How did you decide what you eventually wanted to do?
I suppose each experience has played a vital role in creating the path where I finally am today. People who know me know that, when I do something, I do it for real and nothing will stop me until I get to the place I want to be. My travels, accomplishments and experiences are what have led me to where I am today.
Tell us about your TV series ‘Callie-Anne Cooks Into The Wild’.
It’s a reality cooking show set in the African wilderness, in which I share with you my love for cooking in the outdoors using local and sustainable produce to create something special. The show was my baby and ITV picking it up for distribution was the big fat cherry on top of it all.
What do you aim to achieve through your work?
My biggest goal through everything I do is to share Africa with the world. I feel like we have so much to offer but, at times, we’re perhaps not on par with the rest of the world when it comes to food. My greatest mission is to change that way of thinking and show the world how diverse and colourful African cuisine is.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
If I had to choose the single thing I am most proud of, I would have to say it is my business, ‘Callie-Anne On Safari’. It encourages women to travel Africa, cook in the bush and, using sustainable and local ingredients, make magnificent dishes. This is my pride and joy.
Where is your favourite place in Africa and why?
This is difficult, as each part of Africa I have travelled to is so individual and special. However, I happen to have just returned from the trip of a lifetime: cooking in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Being able to see an Eastern lowland Grauer gorilla in the Kahuzi-Biéga National Park forest was just unforgettable. This is a part of Africa that we dream about; I probably could never explain the beauty and richness that this place has to offer. So, at the moment, the DRC is at the top of my list — but who knows what’s in store for me in the future.
Could you give us an insider tip on where to go on safari if you are a foodie?
The list is pretty endless, but if I have to be specific I would have to choose the following: Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe; Kigali in Rwanda; South Luangwa in Zambia; and Franschoek in South Africa.
What do you love most about Africa?
Her people, her culture, her food and – most importantly – her history!
Do you have a favourite recipe?
I go through phases. It’s usually a flavour of the week or month. At the moment I am obsessed with prawns – I can’t get enough of them!
What’s next for you?
I am extremely passionate about wildlife conservation and I am going to pursue a path of cooking that will help this cause. There may or may not be a TV show in the pipeline, you will just have to wait and see…
For more, see www.callieannecooks.com