Meet Sous Chef Iven Maura
Our talented chef tells us what inspires him in the kitchen
Today we’re chatting with one of our stars here at Arathusa, Sous Chef Iven Maura. Of course, if you’ve ever visited us here at Arathusa, you know that every meal is expertly prepared – and that is all thanks to Chef Iven and his team.
The position of ‘sous chef’ means that you are second in charge of the kitchen team. Your job is to assist the Head Chef with their creative process, while supervising and teaching other staff important skills and secret recipes!
Working in the Kruger Park area can be a challenge, with great distances between suppliers but you would never tell judging by the abundance of fresh fruit, seafood and vegetables prepared by the team. Of course, game meats are always on the menu too!
As a young boy of about 7 or 8, Iven was often left in charge of his younger siblings while his parents went off to work each day. He taught himself how to put together lunch and few afternoon snacks for the young ones. “For me, cooking at an early age was some kind of survival skill that was instilled in me by my parents. I could never have imagined this evolving into a career back then…”
Chef Iven’s father used to work at a hotel, and during his school holidays he would visit his dad’s place of work. Of course, staff often enter hotels through the back entrance and Iven remembers, “I enjoyed passing through the kitchen and seeing the chefs wearing their uniforms and the delicious buffet that they presented. I fell in love with the job.”
As an adult, he started working at a hotel as a croupier or dealer in the casino. He would pass through the kitchen every day and saw that the chefs were happier and smart. He would say to himself “one day, I just want to be like these people”.
As time passed, he approached the Executive Chef and asked if he could help him to secure a position in the kitchen. The chef was so surprised because he was getting more money as a dealer in the casino than the cooks were! “He told me that he didn’t think it was a good choice to leave a good paying job to become a chef so I told him that there is something in me telling me that I need to be in the kitchen”.
Eventually they agreed, so he quit his job in the casino and started his cooking career, first as in intern and then on the night shift.
Chef Iven realised that working in the kitchen wouldn’t be enough and that he had much bigger dreams. He studied part time and received his diploma in Hotel Operations in 2007. Now there was nothing stopping Chef Iven and he was soon promoted to Sous Chef. He continued his journey working at different hotels in Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa.
We asked Iven about what he enjoys about working at Arathusa, “It makes me so happy to see guests exploring and enjoying our African cuisine”. He understands that visitors are often coming to Africa for the first time, and that there are so many new things to taste and discover.
Tell us about one of your funniest moments: “I’ll never forget the time that I served some mopane worms to our international guests.”
Mopane worms are dried caterpillars and are very high in protein and nutrients. Across Southern Africa they are considered a delicacy and are served to important guests. “The guests were frightened and shocked by the dish but they were still brave enough to try it. We had a good laugh at their faces, because for us, it is normal to eat mopane worms!”
We are honoured to work with Chef Iven and so proud to share his cooking with our guests. If you would like to try Chef Iven’s mopane worms, crocodile steak or springbok carpaccio, he would be delighted to welcome you to Arathusa.
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