Meet Diana, Head Chef at Naboisho Camp

By John Baumann | 19 September 2023


If you haven’t been on safari before, you may well expect your meals to be a simple affair given the isolation of your location and the obvious challenges facing food preparation in the bush. Thanks to our chefs, like Diana, this expectation couldn’t be further from the truth.  

Diana, serving up her favourite curry for an al fresco lunch on the lawns at Naboisho Camp

Diana, serving up her favourite curry for an al fresco lunch on the lawns at Naboisho Camp.

The beginning

There was never any doubt, for Diana, that she would one day become a chef. Her dad, himself a professional chef, was always doing something in the kitchen, filling their home with beautiful aromas and delicious treats. As soon as she was old enough to learn, he started teaching her how to bake cakes, using every birthday in their household as an opportunity to refine and enhance her skillset. Diana enjoyed cooking and working with food, but it was baking that inspired her the most.

“He cooked a lot at home when I was growing up and he would always teach me how to bake cakes. He was a very good dad.” – Diana Muture

Diana with one of her sweet creations

An exceptional baker, Diana has developed a reputation for her delicious cakes and pastries.

In amongst the green farmlands on the outskirts of Aberdare National Park, Diana attended the Mathenge Technical Training Institute, where she studied towards her goal of becoming a chef. A requirement of the course was a 3-month internship, which is when Diana was introduced to Asilia. Her kitchen skills and enthusiastic spirit made an impact during her short time as a trainee, and, upon completing her studies, she was called back and offered a permanent position as a junior chef in Naboisho Camp. Diana continued to improve her skills, consistently producing cakes for afternoon tea that received rave reviews from all guests. It wasn’t long before she was promoted to Assistant Head Chef, a position she held for 3 years, before being promoted again – this time to Head Chef of Naboisho Camp.

“I am strong and fearless and manage to lead my team well with lots of laughter along the way.” – Diana Muture

Poolside al fresco dining at Naboisho Camp.

A private breakfast table with views across the Naboisho Conservancy.

For many years, the safari industry was a male dominated arena as women were expected to be at home raising families, and remote bush camps were no place for them to be for extended periods of time. As this perception gradually began to change, more and more women began to make their mark as they filled positions as mechanics, safari guides, chefs and camp managers. During her training process, Diana worked under a female head chef for a short three-week period. Short as it was, it was in this brief period that Diana received the further inspiration she needed to push on in pursuit of the head chef role.   

“She taught me how to be strong and to not fear, she told me how to use recipes correctly but to also put a spin on it to make it more unique to me.” – Diana Muture

The challenges

Arriving at afternoon tea to a spread of cakes and delicious pastries, or sitting down to a gourmet 3-course dinner, guests frequently marvel at our chef’s abilities to create such delightful wonders in the remote locations of our safari camps. It’s certainly not an easily achieved task. Apart from the limitations of appliances in the kitchen, there are logistical and even wildlife challenges to overcome. Resupply of kitchen stores is delivered only once a week. There’s no option to quickly nip out to the grocery store for the garlic you’re missing, so all kitchen stock items need to be carefully monitored, meals planned well in advance, and orders placed with resupply long before items are depleted. Wherever possible, fresh produce is purchased from surrounding communities, but this is subject to both availability and quality of condition.

Diana leads her Naboisho kitchen team from the front

Smiling and enthusiastic, Diana is a strong and fearless leader in the Naboisho Camp kitchen.

Arguably more dangerous than running out of garlic, is the presence of wildlife and the associated risks it presents. Monkeys, while perhaps not the most dangerous, are always looking for an opportunity to break into the kitchen. For this reason, doors must always be closed and latched, cupboards must always be locked, and bins need to be sealed. Diana remembers with a laugh a cooking pot that went missing, only to be found in the bush nearby scoured with bite marks, seemingly from a hyena. Working in the kitchen usually means early starts and late nights, walking through camp long before the sun is up or long since it has set. Naboisho Camp has a single strand high-wire fence, designed purely to keep elephants out of camp as they are eating all the trees, but cats can still roam freely through the camp under the cover of darkness. Just like our guests, Diana relies on an Askari (watchman) to escort her through the darkness as she makes her way to the kitchen in the pre-dawn light.

“The food is outstanding. The service is amazing. I cannot wait to go back again.” – Guest review, TripAdvisor

Diana's apple sauce cake

Diana's apple sauce cake is always a popular favourite at afternoon tea.

The favourites

Her early introduction to baking, under her father’s experienced hand, has resulted in Diana being well-known for her cakes and sweet treats, with her apple sauce cake being a regular crowd-pleaser (see below for her personal recipe). For her, baking is a process that unlocks the memories of her childhood and the fun times spent together with her siblings in the kitchen, dotting each other’s noses with icing sugar. However, her favourite food to prepare is Indian cuisine. For her, it’s the process behind the preparation of a curry that holds the pleasure, playing with the spices, testing the flavours, enjoying the aromas, and building the complexity of the final taste experience. Bread is another of her firm favourites. There is little that compares to the smell of freshly baked bread, and this is something she will regularly prepare both in camp and at home.  

Thanks to Diana, the culinary experience at Naboisho Camp is amongst the best across the Asilia portfolio. Whether it’s a picnic breakfast to enjoy during an early morning game drive, or a 3-course dinner under the stars, her love for the process, attention to flavour, and passion for her craft is evident in every mouthful.

Apple sauce cake:

Cake batter:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Add 2 egg yolks and beat until creamy.

Then add:

  • 1 ½ cups of apple sauce mixed with 2 tbs of bicarb.
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
  • 1 cup raisins/sultanas
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • Fold in 2 egg whites, which have been stiffly beaten.

To finish:

  • Pour into a round cake mould and add apple slices into the mixture pressed to the side of the cake mould.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for about 50 minutes.
  • Sprinkle icing sugar over the cake before serving.

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