Top Chef Mozambique 2011

This post is part of the Mozambique 2011 series. The previous post in this series is Art and crafts in Mozambique.

“An army marches on its stomach” as Napoleon once said – and Willie is fond of quoting! Going to do battle with big fish is a serious and energy-consuming affair. According to Willie, the guys who do “kayak fishing” – literally going out onto the sea or lagoon and fishing from your kayak – will paddle up and down for some 6 plus hours (or approximately 25 – 30 kilometers) a day. Then there is the business of walking or running up and down the beach, collecting bait, and actually fighting the bigger fish when they get caught on your line. As you can gather these guys aren’t just relaxing on the beach, waiting for the fish to come to them.

With all this activity, it is important to eat well and eat enough to keep your energy levels high and to ward off any illness. Eat well they do on these trips! Because it was a bigger group going on this fishing expedition, they were split into 4 teams of 2 people per team. Each team was responsible for cooking 2 to 3 dinners for the whole group. This entailed drawing up menus, buying the ingredients back home in South Africa, and transporting all the food (frozen goods in camping freezers) and cooking equipment to Mozambique with them. Breakfasts and lunches were “help yourself” affairs consisting mostly of breakfast cereals and pau (locally baked bread) respectively. Each member of the group had to make sure they brought along their favourite snacks and drinks.

Pau or locally baked bread. These look like bread rolls, but are quite big and substantial. ©WMB

(See this post to see how the pau are baked.)

South African men like to braai (barbecue) meat, but this group was more adventurous in their cooking. All of the guys work in jobs which occasionally take them off the beaten track, and they have learned to fend for themselves very nicely. So besides braai grids, they also took big cast iron pots (excellent for cooking “potjies” or stews), Willie took a wok and another guy took a small Cobb oven (think of a smaller, portable version of a Weber grill). Cooking was mostly done on small gas cookers or on the fire, with limited working space in the kitchen area. Willie also took with him his portable water purification system (three stage reverse osmosis system), to produce clean water for drinking and cooking and mixing powdered energy drinks with. They travelled with a total of 55 liters of water from South Africa, and then had to refill all the canisters three times. Fishing, kayaking, swimming and snorkelling is thirsty work too!

A typical South Africa braai (barbecue) meal – lamb chops and chicken sosaties (kebabs), sausage and “pap and sous” (thick maize meal “porridge” with, in this case, a tomato-based sauce). ©Theo van Zyl

Couta (fish) sosaties grilled on the fire ©Theo van Zyl

I was amazed when I was going through all the trip photos, to see that somebody had taken daily photographs of the evening meals. Although the presentation of the food was very basic, the food looked (and I’m told tasted) delicious. And there was always dessert.

Main courses included:

  • Chicken and vegetable stir-fry with Jasmine rice
  • Roast lamb with potato salad, peas and corn
  • Lamb chops and Rudi’s pepper sausage with a greek salad and pau (local bread)
  • Roast chicken with baked potatoes and corn
  • Roast pork with baked potatoes, corn and mixed vegetables
  • Lamb shank potjie (stew) with green beans and rice
  • Freshly caught fish and potato wedges, with peas and a tomato salad
  • Couta sosaties (fish kebab) with mixed vegetables
  • Traditional South African braai with lamb chops, sausage and chicken sosaties

There were clearly no vegetarians in this group! Because there wasn’t a way to keep vegetables fresh, most of the vegetables used (except for the potatoes and corn) were frozen. Salad ingredients had to be consumed within the first couple of days.

Roast pork with baked potatoes, corn and mixed vegetables. ©Theo van Zyl

Lamb shank potjie (stew) with green beans and rice. ©Theo van Zyl

(You can find a recipe for the lamb shank potjie at the bottom of this post.

Desserts included:

  • Fresh fruit salad – which was popular because of the lovely fresh fruit which the local women sold at the camp (see this post)
  • Crepe à la nougat
  • Stewed Litchis with custard
  • Blueberry flapjacks with ice-cream
  • Yellow cling peaches with ice-cream

The highlight for many was the chocolate cake which a chef from the nearby hotel made, especially for the one member of the group who celebrated a birthday there. Despite claiming he had limited ingredients to bake a cake, the chef outdid himself and baked what is one of the biggest chocolate (with a caramel filling) cakes  I’ve ever seen!

The chocolate and caramel birthday cake. An absolute winner! ©Theo van Zyl

So who won the title of Top Chef Mozambique 2011? The jury is still out on that one . . . Although Willie reckons the title should go to the dhow skipper and his mate, who after taking them from Vilanculos across to an island, prepared a wonderful meal for them on the dhow.

Food being prepared on the dhow by the skipper and his mate. ©Theo van Zyl

A table was set up on the beach, so the food could be served there. ©Theo van Zyl

The delicious dhow meal. ©Theo van Zyl

The Mozambique 2011 Series:

Thank you to Theo van Zyl and Willie for allowing me to use their beautiful photographs for this post. See individual photos for credits.

A special thank you to Willie for providing the information used to write this post.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Food/Cooking, Lifestyle/Travel, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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32 Comments on “Top Chef Mozambique 2011”

  1. May 24, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Wow, that all looks amazing.

    • May 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

      Doesn’t it?! I was getting hungry just going through all the food photos from the trip.

  2. May 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    That looks absolutely delicious! The planning to get that trip off the ground is mind boggling.

    • May 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

      RE: the planning required – you have NO idea! 🙂 Which is why when we go to the Kalahari later this year, I’ll let Willie do all the planning. He’s so good at it!

  3. Lu
    May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    I am thoroughly impressed – It goes to show that guys can cook themselves proud after all!

    • May 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

      It is quite impressive! There were some claims of them eating better on these trips than they do at home . . . 😉

  4. May 24, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    They certainly looked after themselves out there.

  5. May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    can I join them? 🙂

    • May 25, 2011 at 5:57 am #

      LOL Think you not the only one asking that question! We might just have to hold “auditions”. 😉 Question 1: Can you cook?

  6. jacquelincangro
    May 24, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    The desserts look divine – especially that caramel chocolate cake. I’d go along on this expedition just for that.

    They really outdid themselves!

    • May 25, 2011 at 5:59 am #

      Ah, I actually guessed the dessert menu would be of interest to you. Wonder why?! 🙂 On these trips you don’t get your “pudding”, if you don’t eat your food!

  7. May 24, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    I am so hungry now after reading your blog!
    Great post/ food! 🙂

    • May 25, 2011 at 6:06 am #

      I am glad to hear that my post came across so well. I aim to inspire!

      Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment! 🙂

  8. May 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Boy-oh-boy. I can smell that food, it looks so yummy!

    You know where to find me if ever you need another body at judges’ table. No wait, scratch that – I’d rather just enjoy the food 😉

    Why do I keep coming back to torture myself by looking at these photos?!

    • May 26, 2011 at 6:47 am #

      Ah, there’s no “just enjoying the food”, I’m afraid. You want to eat, you have to cook – at least some of the meals! 🙂

      It’s not “torture” by the way, it’s building up an appetite! 😉

  9. May 25, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

    Oh my! I’m hungry just looking at all that food! What a great post, Lisa! Thanks for sharing!

    • May 26, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      Thank you for reading and voicing your approval! 🙂 Think “the guys” will be very happy with the reaction this post is getting.

  10. May 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Top Chef, indeed! Goodness, the cake looks amazing! Happy birthday to whomever!

    • May 26, 2011 at 6:51 am #

      Thanks Kathy! Will have to tell the cooks involved to read all the comments too.

  11. May 25, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    im loving the different foods every ones culture has to offer..the bread and all the meals look so good!! wordpress gets me so hungy

    • May 26, 2011 at 6:55 am #

      Yes, I agree – I often sit at my desk drooling when I’ve been reading the food posts on WordPress.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment! 🙂

  12. May 26, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    WOW. Amazing.

  13. May 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm #


    I am speechless.

    When you said ‘camping and fishing trip’, I pictured crates of ‘toppers and smash’, supplemented by the occasional caught fish, with strict rations of scarce, purified water.

    But THIS… this is like… five-star cuisine… in the bush!!

    I do the same, by the way, when it comes to meals and eating – much to the dismay of my family and friends, I regularly whip out my camera to take close-ups of food and drink. It feels GREAT to see that I am not the only one who does this!


    • May 26, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      It isn’t what one would imagine, is it? Although in terms of infrastructure, I think a two week trip is about as long as this kind of catering would be viable. They would have to eat a lot more fish if they stayed longer and would no longer have a lot of vegetables. But they still wouldn’t be starving.

      About the photography: Theo – the guy who took most of the food photos – turned out to be the most prolific of all the photographers. He literally took photos of everything that caught his eye (which does sound like you!). Took some of the most amazing shots with a tiny compact camera.

  14. Dakota
    May 28, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Hey there,
    I’m loving your blog and this layout is epic-smart. Very clean and on topic. I love it. Loving this post too though, and it’s making me hungry!!! Keep up the work, I’ll be back 😉

    • May 28, 2011 at 6:17 am #

      Hi Dakota,

      Thank you for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment! Re: the layout. I actually started on my photoblog using the Journalist theme you’re using. I loved the look, but wanted additional functionality.

      I have often visited your blog (since you started it), but never left a comment. A bit shy to – your photography is stunning!

  15. June 1, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    i think i like the delicious food.hehe

  16. June 1, 2011 at 2:01 pm #

    I can assure you that those fish discs they make with lemon and spices are absolutely divine! You also have no pictures of the PRAWNS. About 10km north of Maxixie is a small restaurant called Quartus Max (or something like that). It serves these massive, fresh prawns for something like $11 a plate. Beer is $1.

    • June 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm #

      This post was all about the food that the group made themselves in the fishing camp. But I agree with you about the Mozambican cuisine. Those prawns and other seafood are legendary! The guys did take a trip up to Vilanculos and ate prawns there. Will have to make a note of the restaurant in Maxixe for next time . . .


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