It can be hard enough to make a home-cooked meal for your family. Imagine, then, if you had to whip up wholesome dishes for a ton of hungry cyclists while touring through AfricaÂ… on the back of a bike. That’s the reality facing Miles Macdonald, chef for the Tour d’Afrique–a one-of-a-kind biking trip through Africa. SheKnows.com was able to grab a moment of Macdonald’s time to chat about his cooking techniques just before he set off on another cycling tour.
SheKnows.com: How did you become a travelling chef for Tour d’Afrique?
Macdonald: After returning from a brief sojourn to the high mountains of Sichuan Province in China, I heard of the Tour d’Afrique and realised it was the perfect way to combine my love of cycling with my cooking background [as well as my nomadic habits]. My first tour was from Cairo to Cape Town and it went so well I’ve continued cooking on tours–I have now worked as a bicycle expedition chef in over 35 countries.
SheKnows.com: What goes into preparing meals for high-endurance athletes while in the outback of Africa?
Macdonald: What really goes into the meals is a little bit of the culture and history of wherever we happen to be for the night. The food is sourced in the markets along the route, so we eat what the locals eat. The more I learn about the regions we pass through, the more I can bring out [flavours, etc.] from each region’s cuisine. Of course, for a hungry cyclist, the most important thing is there’s enough for seconds.
SheKnows.com: What kinds of dishes do you prepare?
Macdonald: I’ve prepared dishes for 80 people with only carrots, onions, lentils and rice. The key is in the balance of spices to make the dish seem more intricate than it is. High carb dishes are best for endurance athletes, so we’ll end up cooking lots of pastas, rice, polenta, etc. One of my favourite starch dishes is a mash dish of potatoes, African sweet potatoes, summer squash, onions, cabbage, garlic and sage. My favourite meat is goat over a wood fire in one of our many bush camps along the route [a bush camp being a site with no facilities along the road].
SheKnows.com: Any cooking tips for people who are avid travellers or always on the go?
Macdonald: My tip would be to try everything and keep an open mind. Eat in the local restaurants as much as you can and learn from the dishes you’re served. The best is to be invited to a local home to eat a meal as you’ll experience the culinary culture in full. When you have access to a kitchen on the road, take the opportunity to head to the market and buy what looks fresh and tastiest. If you’re not sure what to make, then just cook all of the individual ingredients separately with the respect they deserve. Then, enjoy!
To learn more about Tour d’Afrique cycling events, visit www.tourdafrique.com. Tours are for everyone – from amateur to professional cyclists. Participants range in age from 18 to 75.