Originally hailing from Cape Town, but bringing experience from around the world, the culinary creations of Chef Eno are a true highlight of a stay at Time + Tide Miavana. Bringing years of experience spanning the globe from the Seychelles to the Middle East, he is an accomplished chef whose cuisine perfectly embodies the island spirit and sustainable philosophy so integral to the resort. Working in such a remote location is far from simple, but he manages it with creativity and aplomb. Unsurprisingly, his tried and true mantra is: keep it fresh.
Time + Tide Miavana is known for its extraordinary, high-end dining experience. Despite how incredibly remote the resort is, it can rival any top restaurant. That’s no easy feat out here. How do you create and fine tune that experience on a daily basis?
First and foremost, it centres around what kind of produce we have that day. With our weekly deliveries from the Madagascan mainland, there are never any guarantees. A farmer may not have had as good of a crop as they had hoped, a vegetable may not be available, or you may order something, and it simply won’t turn up on the barge. It’s a great exercise in creativity. Sometimes I will change dishes on the fly as I’m plating them because I suddenly get an idea about how the ingredients have on hand will fit into the dish. You definitely never find yourself getting into a rut.
We always strive for no two meals to be the same for guests. Every meal should be a new experience. When you start pulling in dietary requirements and allergies, it gets even more challenging, but in a good way. A good challenge is healthy and exciting. It gets you thinking outside of the box.
How has the island setting influenced your culinary philosophy?
Keep clean cut, simple and fresh. No components that require 5 or 6 sub-recipes. We like to let the food really speak for itself. It should be honest food.
We’re on an island. I find that a lot of clientele come here to get away from that city lifestyle and that city dining experience where everything is overly elaborate. The island lifestyle is more about creating a light and fresh feel in the food, while bringing in elements of that elaborate dining experience in a way that is impactful and surprising, but not overwhelming. This is a beautiful, beautiful island. The food should only enhance the setting, not distract from it.
You’ve worked all over the world, travelled a good bit and come from the very diverse city of Cape Town. How does that international background play into your cuisine? Do you have any favourite styles or flavours that you like to bring to Time + Tide Miavana?
I love Asian food. It’s simplistic. The ingredients speak for themselves. And it’s all about celebrating the freshest ingredients that you can get. But I also love the discipline of other cuisines, like French cooking. Even though French cooking is a little too heavy for me, it’s that immaculate discipline that I admire. I love bringing those dimensions to Asian ingredients to create something beautiful. For example, we do a citrus consommé, which brings those bright, vibrant flavours to a classic French technique. We serve that with fresh, local fruit and the end result is absolutely delicious (pictured on the left).
There are obviously plenty of challenges, but what are some of the advantages of running a high-end kitchen in a remote environment?
I’ve worked in other very remote islands and luxury bush camps, and each one has taught me something different. It’s allowed me to do a lot of growing as a chef, a lot of thinking outside the box. When I was first beginning, it was very nerve wracking because you’ve conformed to the normality of making a menu, then sourcing the products, because in the city you can find them. On an island, you have what you have. It forces you to work in reverse and create a menu based on the ingredients available to you on that day. Now, that’s very much become my style. It keeps you from getting too flustered or pressurised. You can only do with what you have. It keeps your mind fully open and creative. If you’re used to doing things one precise way in a very specific order, it can be overwhelming when you hit a wall. That doesn’t happen when you’re used to working in a remote environment. It’s all fluid, like a dance.
What does Madagascar offer in terms of ingredients?
Madagascar has really beautiful ingredients. We try to work directly with the local farmers to ensure we can get the type of produce we need. We explain what we do with the food and why we want it the way we do. Sometimes they look at us like we’re crazy when we show them those baby carrots and little zucchinis that we want. They always look at us like ‘what are you going to do with those tiny things?’ With how good the climate is for growing, the vegetables get really huge. When we get those in, we twist and turn it and play it to our hand. It always comes together beautifully in the end.
We’ve been very lucky about how open the farmers are to working with us and meeting our needs. Once they understood what we were trying to do and our clientele, they were excited. They’re always coming back to us with different produce saying, ‘Chef, do you want this or this? Is this more what you’re looking for?’ It’s a really dynamic and positive relationship that we’re enjoying building.
What about seafood?
There’s a lot of really fantastic fish and seafood too. The waters are so productive here! Right now, we’re working with some fisherman on the mainland, but we’re hoping to strengthen our relationships with the local fishing associations to support sustainable fishing in the area. I personally love fishing and spend a good bit of my free time fishing on the beaches of Nosy Ankao. It’s really excellent here, and those sunsets don’t hurt either. I grew up fishing all around Cape Town with my dad, so it’s nice to a have a little connection to home all the way out here in Madagascar.