‘Little things make big things happen,’ so the saying goes.
At The Homestead, it’s only by focusing on all the little details that we’re able to deliver on our big commitment to create a world-leading, conscious luxury experience. Words like sustainability may capture headlines and attention, but unless all our decision making is tied to our intention to help our guests experience and truly understand the effect they can make on the world around them, then they are nothing more than words.
“Everything we do in life has an impact,” says Ryan Nienaber, founder of Greenfish, a low-impact fishing company based in Cape Town. “But each of us doing our little bit means collectively we can make a big impact. If I use one less plastic packet that’s one less plastic packet that ends up in the ocean.”
The restaurant at The Homestead is at the very heart of the experience. So, when it came time to choose our suppliers, Head Chef Kamarl John wanted to ensure our guests not only enjoyed the most incredible, fresh produce on their plates, but that our suppliers also shared our ethos. Greenfish ticked all the boxes, not only because of the outstanding quality of their beautiful fresh seafood caught in the waters around South Africa, but because of their infectious love of, and respect for the ocean.
Greenfish pride themselves on putting fish on the table in a way that is traceable and transparent. Not only do they champion small-scale fishing in South Africa but they are incredibly conscious of the impact they have. However, the word “sustainability’ is one Ryan shies away from. He says that all too often it’s used as a boast by industrial-scale fisheries don’t follow through. He prefers to call what he does “low-impact fishing.”
“I have harvested the ocean since I was a child and I feel that I’m almost a custodian of the sea,” adds Ryan. “I feel that if we take a fish from the ocean, it’s our responsibility to give it the maximum value. So, we collect, process and deliver fish individually. If we take something from the ocean, we give it the respect and value it deserves.”
The traditional safari experience has been reimagined at The Homestead. And while every little detail of our guest offering is unashamedly luxurious, opulent and bespoke, we are putting conservation and impact at the heart of every experience we offer. The fish that ends up on your plate at The Homestead will go from ocean to plate within 24 hours. And because Greenfish do not take orders; our team of chefs will be presented what has been caught on any given day time, which means it will be fresh, local and seasonal. “What other factories do with 50 people, I can do with 15,” Ryan adds.
“What we do is all about passion; passion for healthy, low-impact fishing and eating that conserves the food sources within the environment and also protects the environment. We believe in embracing and empowering local communities. The money that local fishermen make goes back into their local communities.
He adds, “Look, I like to know what I am eating. I eat fish I have harvested myself.
“I have been fishing since the age of five. I started selling fish in high school and sold it to pay my way through college. I ended up missing classes to pay for classes by going out fishing myself, so I bought freshly caught fish and sold it door to door to pay my way through college. I fished my way around the world; I lived on the Great Barrier Reef for two years, and I fished from Madagascar to Canada. I travelled to learn about fish. To catch a fish, you have to understand the weather, you have to understand fish, and sometimes you catch nothing. It is a hard job and a dying artisan trade.
Greenfish use low-impact, individual pole and line fishing, which results in higher quality and brings fish to your table in a less disruptive and damaging way. Industrial-scale net fishing sweep the ocean indiscriminately using nets that can hold twenty jumbo jets. Often, tragically, turtles and even dolphins are brought in with the catch, which scoops up whole schools of fish - leaving none left to breed. Greenfish are the antithesis of that approach. Ryan explains how they go about their work.
“For sushi, pole caught yellowfin tuna is my hero. We have a fantastic well-managed tuna pole fishery off Cape Point, where nutrient-rich cold water from the West coast and warm water from the East coast mix to provide a melting pot of wonderful fish species. For white fish sushimi, I would go for local Cape yellowtail.
“We’re very careful about how we fish. Mussels and oysters, for instance, live in symbiotic relationships with their environments. They filter the water and leave the water cleaner than it was before they got there. They are grown on ropes, so they do not touch the sea floor. We are spoilt here in South Africa — they reach the table in literally four hours or so. I have eaten mussels in Brussels, Europe, and the taste does not even come close to our fresh South African mussels.”
As Ryan (and every good cook) says, the very best produce needs very little done to it. If you start with a good product, it’s very easy to make a beautiful dish. We are delighted at The Homestead to be partnering with those who are passionate about their produce and bring the best and the most responsibly sourced ingredients to our kitchens. And that is just a flavour of the authentic taste of high living that you will enjoy during your luxury South African safari holiday at The Homestead.