Namibia’s Danene shines at cookbook ‘Oscars’

Gourmet recipes
Yandi du Plessis
Danene van der Westhuyzen held Namibia’s name high at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards that took place in Umeå, Sweden, earlier this month.
These awards are often described as the Oscars of the cookbook industry.
Here collection of recipes, From the Veld, which was launched on 25 February last year, was awarded as the best in the world in the Meat and Hotel category and took second place in the Fundraising category.
Daneen described the achievement as an “incredibly humbling experience”, saying that the award was really unexpected, but means so much. “Although our country and its people are going through difficult times, the value of family, history, the delicate balance of nature and what it provides for us and therefore cultivates discipline and respect, is invaluable.”
From the Veld is Danene's “celebration of the Namibian tradition of living off the land”. It is packed with recipes developed over the years by her family, friends and fellow Namibians, and perfected at Aru Game Lodges – Kalakwa and Veronica – which she and her husband, Gysbert, run.
“With this book, I want to share our approach to using nature’s bounty thoughtfully and imaginatively. At a time when we are all looking for a more meaningful way of life, this book speaks of resilience and respect for nature.”
In light of this, Danene said that 15% of the profits from the sales of this book go to the Namibia Chamber of the Environment (NCE) programme that funds conservation projects in Namibia.
Conservation through hunting
Danene says she was raised with a strong sense of appreciation and responsibility towards nature, and she believes that conservation plays an integral role in Namibia - something that has played a key role in compiling From the Veld.
“In Namibia, hunters don’t just kill. They are nature lovers looking for sustainable and ethical hunting methods that help conservation strategies, to protect wildlife and habitats. They are people who want to actively experience nature; people who want to take responsibility for where their food comes from; people who acknowledge their relationship with wildlife. I’m a hunter and I’m proud of it. By hunting, I fight for my meals while remembering that eating is a privilege. I learned what weight it takes to take the life of an animal so that I can live.
“In Namibia, hunting is an integral part of our conservation model; it benefits communities, wildlife, natural ecosystems and habitats. It also means that we enjoy quality venison, of course at its best if it is organic, free-range, ethically produced and low in cholesterol.”
Danene’s passion for fair and ethical hunting practices has motivated her involvement with numerous conservation and poaching organizations in recent years.
She is the former president of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA), chairman and chief executive of the Professional Hunting Associations of Africa (OPHAA) and a trustee of the Hunters United Against Poaching Fund. She has been appointed a board member of the Namibian Nature Conservation Board and has been selected to serve on the Dallas Safari Club's (DSC) Conservation Advisory Board.
She is one of only a handful of qualified female professional hunters in Namibia and the first female professional hunter to qualify for dangerous game hunting in Namibia. As a qualified optometrist, she also does voluntary work in this regard in her spare time.
From the Veld is available at the major bookstores in Windhoek, or can be ordered online at .