And the winner is … Levi Kato of Wilderness’ Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge


(Posted 11th June 2016)

This year’s Silverchef competition, held at Cephas Inn in the South Western Ugandan town of Kabale, for the first time involved chefs from neighbouring Rwanda, which geographically of course also is part of the Gorilla Highlands.
The Gorilla Highlands concept relies on bringing people together, building friendships and fostering informal cooperation. As a team promoting the region it was recognized that standing together makes the region stronger than any individual efforts could ever be. And with the cooking competition now firmly established, Is there a more pleasant reason to gather than to sample the best the kitchens in South West Uganda and across the border in Rwanda can produce?

A record number of competitors enjoyed each other’s company and appreciated the two trips organised for them through the impromptu sponsorship of local tourism companies.
On Friday evening they went for a walking trip of Kabale, on Sunday for a canoe trip on Lake Bunyonyi with a stop on Bushara Island. This was a sponsorship contribution by Kazinga Tours, a company devoted to giving back to the community and celebrating 10 years of business next month, which allowed the organizers of Silverchef 2016 to treat them to a great Friday dinner and ample drinks on Saturday eve.

Said Felex Musinguzi of Kazinga Tours: ‘We believe that the Gorilla Highlands initiative gives courage and hope to the tourism players, that is why we decided to support Silverchef‘.
Not only did Kazinga Tours commit to helping next year again, Eric Rukinirwa of La Palme in Musanze invited all present to bring Silverchef 2017 to the hotel he manages in the Rwandan town of Musanze, the springboard for gorilla tracking in the Land of a Thousand Hills. The location of course could not be better as it underscores that the Gorilla Highlands idea is expanding into Rwanda apart from offering very good facilities, experienced repeatedly in the past by this correspondent when attending the annual gorilla naming festival Kwita Izina.

(Pictures by Abby Bluth)

The general quality was really impressive. I was surprised by how people who should be competitors, like from lodges across the road, came together as friends and made a nice atmosphere‘ said Sean Zweifler, one of the five judges who have to be commended for devoted work and good will. Not only did they volunteer their time, most of them arrived to the venue at their own cost. The organisers have acknowledged this and agreed that they will have to do a better job in the future assuring appropriate financial support for the competition.

Though limited in terms of funding this year holding the event nevertheless proved yet again that Gorilla Highlands can stand on its own feet. Silverchef 2016 was fully financed through participant fees of just $50, raising the prospect that Silverchef will become an annual must-attend social and culinary event for the tourism fraternity of both Rwanda and Uganda.

Winner of the 2016 edition of the Silverchef competition in the end was Levi Kato of the Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, whose skills of presentation and the quality of his creations convinced the judges that he was the one who deserved to carry the trophy home.
Overall though it was noted that the quality of cuisine had over the past year once again improved and chefs now look forward to this annual cook off in a friendly competitive atmoshphere, from which everyone comes away with new ideas and new recipes, benefitting the tourist visitors who come to stay in the hotels, resorts and lodges which participated in the event and nominated their chefs.

(Levi Kato of Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge at Gorilla Highlands Silverchef 2016; photo by Abby Bluth)

Congratulations to Levi and thanks to all the participating chefs and their employers for being part of Silverchef 2016.

The lodges and hotels that participated were:

Bunyonyi Overland Resort, Lake Bunyonyi
Cephas Inn, Kabale
Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge, Nkuringo
Rafiki Guest House, Kisoro
Gorilla Valley Lodge, Rushaga
Ishasha Wilderness Camp, Ishasha
La Palme Hotel, Musanze
Mahogany Springs, Buhoma
Nshongi Camp, Rushaga
Seeds of Hope, Lake Bunyonyi
Travellers Rest Hotel, Kisoro
Virunga Lodge, Musanze

The judges appreciated all submitted meals and gave special certificates for exceptional quality to the following six chefs:

Bright Matsiko, Nshongi Camp
Muhamadi Topher, Gorilla Valley Lodge
Issa Karegeya, Virunga Lodge
Jocknas Kihuta, Ishasha Wilderness Camp
Julius Tibaijuka, Cephas Inn
Levi Kato, Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge (Winner of the 2016 competition)

Meanwhile has the Gorilla Highland initiative released their latest destination video clip aimed to promote travel to the arguably most scenic part of Uganda between the towns of Kabale and Kisoro.