And the winner is… The Elephant Cafe
The exclusive restaurant (an Explorer Club Africa property) – situated on a deck in the Zambezi River, 10 kilometres upstream from Victoria Falls – was presented with the Best New Restaurant Award by the Zambia Hospitality Awards (ZHA) at a glittering function in Lusaka, Zambia on 28 October.
“My team and I were thrilled to have been nominated for, let alone receive, the Best New Restaurant Award. I am grateful to the Zambia Hospitality Awards for the recognition,” says Annabel Hughes, the mastermind behind the unique cuisine at The Elephant Café.
“I hadn’t expected to receive acknowledgement from the hospitality industry so soon after our launch four months ago,” she added. “It’s such an incentive to us all as we move forward.”
The restaurant provides the ultimate African experience of dining in an exclusive five-star venue in the wild, set amongst the Zambezi Elephant Trails (ZET) herd of rescued elephants. Diners have the option of arriving by jet boat, or by road through the national park, after which they are met by, and interact with, the elephants.
The seasonal menus – which Annabel creates at her partner’s farm upstream from the restaurant – are original and unique as all the fresh ingredients are sourced from the surrounding environment and local community. Presenting the indigenous ingredients in a style in keeping with food trends – with names like mongongo nut, muchingachinga, sindambi, masembe and munkoyo – is a signature element of the “bush gourmet cuisine” served at The Elephant Café.
The restaurant was evaluated in its category by four professionals representing the ZHA and assessed at three different times to ensure a consistent standard. The judges (Zambian and international experts in their fields) marked the nominees on ambience, food and service.
The ZHA recognizes and rewards professionals “within one of the toughest and most fierce industries,” according to the organization’s criteria. “It’s gratifying that The Elephant Café was recognized so soon after opening,” said Annabel.
The core function of the awards is to “improve the service standards within the hospitality industry and to give credit to establishments that go an extra mile to ensure their level of service is excellent and consistent,” says a ZHA spokesman.
A celebratory lunch is being planned this week for The Elephant Café’s team. “I feel such gratitude to my staff, who have all worked so hard since we opened in July. I’m also grateful to our beloved elephants and their handlers for allowing us into their lives, and not forgetting a huge thank-you to all the supporters who voted for us.”
Graham Nel, MD of SAFPAR (of the Explorer Club Africa group) expressed his pride at The Elephant Café’s accolade. “Annabel and her team truly deserve this award. They have made their mark on the hospitality map and congratulations are in order from all of us at SAFPAR.
The Elephant Café is open for breakfast, a three-course lunch or dinner, as well as high tea. The restaurant seats 24 guests, thus pre-booking is essential and must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Be sure to reserve a table on your next visit to Livingstone and enjoy an experience of a lifetime at this now award-winning restaurant. For more information or bookings, go to www.elephant.cafe
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