Cooking is Chef Tapiwa Mamutse’s passion.
When he kits up for his role as Executive Chef at Belize’s Hamanasi Adventure and Dive Resort, he feels excited – he is fortunate to love what he does so much, his job does not feel like work at all.
He utilises the fresh produce he is surrounded with, to create cuisine to satisfy the many tourists he caters to, and locals alike.
Chef Tapiwa grew up in the Zimbabwean capital city of Harare and trained for his profession at Warwick Chef School in South Africa.
Prior to moving to Belize, Chef Tapiwa worked as Head Chef at Robin Pope Safaris in Malawi; and at Zimbabwe’s African Bush Camps as the Group
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.
What or who inspired you to become a Chef?
I have a large extended family and my mother and her sisters are the most passionate when it comes to cooking.
There was always food around me growing up – and I managed to take it that much further when I got older.
Why did you get interested in cuisine?
I have always been interested in food. I realised if I'm going to cook, I wanted to do it as much as I could; work very hard; and do my best to become great at it. When you are passionate about something, it barely feels like work – cooking is who I am.
What makes Belizean cuisine unique and special?
Belizean food is definitely not restricted to one style or trend. There is plenty of blending of cultures here, which makes it really interesting when you create locally-inspired dishes – there’s so much selection to choose from.
Can you share your favourite recipe?
Chocolate Torte Gluten free
YIELD: 16 slices
9 Oz. dark organic chocolate, finely chopped
9 ounces (18 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar/this can be removed or substituted only a few drops
1 teaspoon fine table salt
7 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon gluten free flour
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and line a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Grease again.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, until the chocolate is almost completely melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth and totally melted. Stir in the sugar/sweetener and salt, then let cool for a few minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, fully combining between each addition. After all the eggs are added, continue to stir until the batter becomes thick, glossy, and utterly gorgeous. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the torte jiggles slightly in the middle but is not completely set. Begin checking at the 30-minute mark to ensure the torte does not over bake. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into wedges and serve alone or with whipped cream, berries.
This recipe can be made in advance, cooled completely, and stored in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped, for up to three days. To store longer, let cool completely, press a sheet of plastic on top of the torte, and place in an airtight container. Dust with powdered sugar right before serving.
Can you tell us about any farmers you work with, from who you buy your ingredients?
The food we use at the resort is sourced from the local market - we try and get it as close to home as possible. We have a farmer near us who produces beautiful hydroponics, lettuce and micro greens – this same farmer is also going to supply us with fresh vanilla beans by next year – it is very exciting.
What do tourists appreciate most about your work?
We cater for a lot of foreign guests and our goal is to serve a diverse array of pallets – this is a big opportunity for us to always strive to do our best work. When I do get to meet guests face-to-face, they are happy most of the time. I think the best experience I have had was being stopped while walking past the bar one day. A guest had seen me and wanted to know if I was the chef and said how much he loved our cinnamon rolls. While I had not made the rolls, I introduced the guest to the team member who had made them. It is not often the guys behind the scenes are shown appreciation directly – it was a special moment.
What is your personal mission?
I like to be great at everything I do and share the wealth of information I have to others - growing and developing local talent is a mission of mine.
Can you tell us what you are most excited about right now?
We are currently in the process of redoing our menu at the moment and we are adding a lot more locally-inspired dishes. Feedback is always exciting to get, be it good or bad – it gives us direction.