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The world is an adventure playground

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Most of the time, René Linke is the creative head and managing director of his own catering company. Weddings, anniversaries, company events with lobster, champagne and beef fillet are among his specialities. But six weeks a year Linke leads a second life when he cooks for the Land Rover Experience Tour.

This has taken René Linke to Iceland, Australia, and Peru among other places. This year, which by the way is his 7th tour, he will spend his weeks outdoors in the Kavango Zambezi Sanctuary in Africa. He will travel across Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Together, these countries form the world’s second largest protected natural reserve. His colleague Stefan Auer, Camel Trophy winner 1997, motocross rider, mechanic and cook will be there. A grill and a Rational combi steamer will also be along for the ride. After all, 40 men and women have to be fed every day. Before his departure, René Linke shared his thoughts and insights with KTCHNrebel.

KTCHNrebel: How can we picture a normal day with you in Africa?

René Linke: As a rule, a rally day starts at 5 o’clock in the morning with the wake-up song. Right now my song of choice is “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica. “Africa” by Toto and The Lion King title song are also on the playlist. We’ll see what comes on.

KTCHNrebel: What do you have for breakfast?

René Linke: Bread rolls, croissants, eggs either scrambled or sunny side up.

KTCHNrebel: In the savannah?

René Linke: Sure. That’s no problem. A cool box is mounted on the roof of every Land Rover. They can cool down to -18 C. You can carry a lot of food in there. And baking is done in the SelfCookingCenter.

Landrovertour chef cooking food

René Linke and SelfCookingCenter / Image: Craig Pusey

KTCHNrebel: So you have a SelfCookingCenter with you for the entire trip?

René Linke: Of course, just like we do on every tour. The SelfCookingCenter even has its own Land Rover Discovery and is built into it. I had to fiddle with it a little bit, because the device was too tall with its feet. Now it stands on the frame which is actually intended for the Combi Duo. It fits perfectly.

KTCHNrebel: What time do you leave after breakfast?

René Linke: The convoy has to leave at 6 o’clock at the latest, otherwise we won’t make it to our destination by nightfall.

KTCHNrebel: Speaking of destination, the Land Rover Experience Tour goes cross-country, and 80% of the drive is on unpaved roads. The teams get the coordinates of the destination and have to find their own way. And you?

René Linke: Of course I also get the coordinates for the destination, but I also get more material to help me find my way. But, of course, there are no road maps as we know them. It wouldn’t help anyway, since we’re off-road.

Landrovertour 2019 cooking offroad

Image: Craig Pusey

KTCHNrebel: But if you know the way better than the rally teams, then they would only have to follow you and all the fun would be gone.

René Linke: Well, sometimes I drive up ahead with the camera team so that we can take these cool shots of the passing vehicles. Sometimes I also follow behind, help change tires, fill holes, anything that comes up. Pick out a campsite, set up a camp. And then we cook.

KTCHNrebel: What has made its way onto your table in the two weeks you’ve been on the road?

René Linke: Everything the local markets have to offer. Kudu, springbok, antelope, ostrich. Side dishes like potatoes are served with it and of course vegetables, fruit, etc. Luckily I was in Namibia a few years ago and so I know what to expect and what food to get.

KTCHNrebel: And vegetarians?

René Linke: They just leave out the eat.

KTCHNrebel: Do you also take food from Germany with you?

René Linke: No, I don’t take anything from Germany. That would be far too expensive and food should not be imported without reason. Also in Africa I have to be careful not to transport meat across the border. Likewise I can’t leave any garbage behind, everybody has to take it with them in their vehicles. Every now and then we spend the night in lodges, where we are allowed to throw it away.

Landrover tour 2019 cooking chef job

Image: Craig Pusey

KTCHNrebel: What has been your most adventurous cooking experience so far?

René Linke: Beside crocodile in Australia, which has not been at the top of my menu since then, Namibia was the most interesting because they bake in holes in the ground there. All you need is charcoal and a cast iron pot. Just put hot coal into the hole, put a pot on it, put some hot coal on the lid and then fill up the hole. The bread will be ready in a few hours.

KTCHNrebel: Is it always that easy?

René Linke: No, not really. In Australia, for example, the kitchen cart was a truck with a refrigerator and a combi steamer. Perfectly equipped. But the pretour was done with the normal Land Rovers. Unfortunately, my truck didn’t always fit where they passed through. Once we got so stuck that I had to cut down yucca palms with the chainsaw until 3 o’clock in the morning to get the kitchen to the team on time. Breakfast was served at 5. Like always.

KTCHNrebel: Mr Linke, we wish you and your colleague Stefan Auer a great trip and all the best. We’ re looking forward to hearing what you have to say about your tour.

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