Meet our three rising chef stars who have graduated from their kitchen internships at Giraffe Manor and are now cooking up a storm in their new roles in The Safari Collection kitchens!

We met Milani, Jecinta and Anthony when they were just 13 years old and entered our high school Conservation Scholarship Programme. From the timid students who entered our lodges for their scholarship interviews over five years ago, to the determined, outgoing and professional young individuals we see today, we want to celebrate their successes and hard work.

Jecinta is now fully employed as a chef at Solio Lodge

In training: Chef internships

It all began with Anothony Njogu, a former conservation scholar from the area near to Solio Lodge. After finishing high school last year, he spent several months in the Giraffe Manor kitchen going from strength to strength. Having thrived under the guidance of the chef team there, he has now moved back to his home area to work at Solio Lodge in his first official job as a chef.

Anthony in his new role at Solio Lodge

Since joining the Solio team, Anthony has grown immensely and consistently steps up to challenges with impeccable work ethic. Always first on shift and last to leave, Head Solio Chef Elvis is delighted to have him on his team.

“Anthony is young and humble. In the 10 months he has been at Solio, I have seen him grow both personally and professionally. The thing I like most about working with him is that he is always eager to learn, positively takes correction and is always ready to go the extra mile. Anthony will be an amazing chef. ”
~ Elvis, Head Chef at Solio Lodge

Following Anthony’s success, we wanted to give other conservation scholars with a passion for cooking similar opportunities. Therefore, we designed a more structured training programme.

Milani and Jecinta

Jecinta Lelenkima and Milani Lenamunyi were the first girls to complete our intensive, six-month kitchen internship at Giraffe Manor. Both are from rural villages in Westgate Community near Sasaab in Samburu. Being thrown into the middle of our busiest kitchen, living far away from home in a city they had never visited before and mastering a multitude of new skills was no easy task!

Jecinta and Milani hard at work in the Giraffe Manor kitchens

From basic theory on how to hold a knife, food safety, cooking techniques and ingredient identification, to perfecting the pastry on Giraffe Manor’s famous afternoon tea delights, they learnt the workings of a commercial kitchen.

“Despite being quiet and shy, I could see their enthusiasm and commitment by the amount of notes they took down during each session and how hard they tried to perfect every skill despite being thrown into our busiest kitchen.” ~ Paul Antolik, Executive Chef at The Safari Collection

The girls rotated between different culinary departments, from mastering mother sauces in the hot kitchen to spending time under the guidance of Head Pastry Chef, Magdorris, who taught them all the wonderful high-tea items, desserts and breads as well as cake baking and decorating. Working in the scullery was also part of their rotation to gain an appreciate of the hard work our dishwashers do to keep the kitchen running smoothly.

Jecinta serving afternoon tea delights she has prepared for guests at Giraffe Manor

It was a sad day when Milani and Jecinta’s internship ended. They had both made firm friends and become such an integral part of the Giraffe Manor kitchen that the team felt like they were losing two family members. Luckily, the girls are still part of The Safari Collection family as they have both been employed by two of our other lodges.

“These two extraordinary young women have truly embraced the opportunities that came their way, proving that a single step can lead to a transformative journey.” ~ Cecilia Mueni, Assistant Footprint Director at The Safari Collection

Milani has just started working as a hot kitchen commis chef at Sala’s Camp and Jecinta is now based at Solio Lodge where she assists in both hot kitchen and pastry. We are excited to see them flourish even more as they continue to learn from and be a part of our tight-knit kitchen teams.

Jecinta in her new role at Solio Lodge, preparing canapés for guests on a sundowner

Would you like to give an under-privileged student in rural Kenya the chance to complete their high school education? Discover more about our Conservation Scholars Programme on our Footprint Trust website below.