Meet Boitshepo “Hope” Totobe - also known as Chef Hope.
Her journey began in a small village called Molatedi in the Madikwe Game Reserve, where she grew up - next stop was Coligny in the North West Province, where she went to boarding school, then onto Catering School, touch down at Morukuru Family Madikwe, off to Morukuru Family De Hoop and back to Morukuru Family Madikwe.
Hope tells us that Marcia Tjobeke can be credited with having the biggest influence on her decision to pursue a career in food and hospitality. It was Marcia who guided Hope and trained her to be a cook. “Mama Marcia taught me all I know - and especially about herbs and spices, which are now what I use to stamp my unique mark on my dishes. Turmeric, Cumin, Masala, Chilli, Fresh Ginger, Saffron and Curry Leaves are my favourites, and I call them “ingredients of love”. A large part of the African food culture focuses on beef, mutton and lamb - my passion for seasoning - allowing these ingredients to shine.”
Morukuru Family Madikwe is in a remote setting, but Chef Hope doesn’t allow that to hold her back when sourcing ingredients. “We have excellent local suppliers and great relationships with producers. Everyone is always willing to assist me in tracking an essential item down. This type of community support is wonderful - especially when I’m preparing for guests and when I find out that there are certain dietary preferences. I’m in a position to be able to prepare anything and accommodate special requests.”
Hope’s journey with Morukuru Family includes time at both Morukuru Family Madikwe and Morukuru Family de Hoop. “The culinary styles in the bush and at the coast do differ - at Morukuru Ocean House and Beach Lodge, we pursued a modern restaurant style, and here in the Madikwe Game Reserve, I focus on traditional menus with a dash of contemporary flair. My goal is to complement the overall safari experience - so I enjoy planning bush breakfasts, pizza in the bush, or unique dining experiences like a dinner at Ed’s View.”
Hope’s advice for all aspirant chefs is to start with wonderful homemade dishes, using simple cooking techniques, and if possible, find yourself a mentor like Marcia who will encourage and teach you to stamp your own style on each dish.