SCHULTZ IS A STAR among the many stars at Tzaneen Country Lodge. He is, says Adri Kruger, “Mr Tzaneen Country Lodge” and he looks after everything when she and Faan go away.
Many returning guests ask if he is available when they make a new booking and ask if he can look after them. In the day and a half that I got to know him, I realised that he is an example to anyone who has any interest in working in the hospitality and tourism industries.
He enjoys interacting with people as much as he enjoys serving them and attending to their needs… and the experience they gain from staying at his establishment. It is Schultz who maks sure that the experience is memorable.
He came to my room one evening to say that he hadn’t managed to get some Mopani worms that he so badly wanted me to taste. (Phew, thank goodness!) But that he would try for next time I come. (Maybe I should try them.) Guests who do try them are given a certificate… is that a shield of honour?
He explains that you eat them with pap and sheba (mielie meal porridge and a tomato & onion relish), and only need a tiny bite of Mopani worm between each mouthful of pap. “What does it taste like?” I ask. “Prawns,” he says, “I should have taken you into Tzaneen where you can buy a teacup size of worms for R15.”
He explains the process they take to market… they are shaken or plucked off Mopani trees, then boiled for a long time, then dried for a few days. A factory has been built in his home town of Giyani about 100km north of Tzaneen where locals can bring in the worms they collect from the trees.
I had read that Mopani worms have three times the protein of beef, but I’m sure they would be more palatable given another name!
Schultz enjoys exposing visitors to his culture — be it those worms, local life or tribal dances. I’d go back just for the insight he can offer. He belongs to the Pedi tribe and started explaining the tribal differences in Limpopo; something I would love to understand.
He was born and educated in Giyani, but finished matric in Johannesburg where his parents moved. He went to the Hotel School in Ga-Rankuwa, Limpopo, where he studied to be a barman and a chef.
His practical years were spent at the Rand International Hotel but he stayed on there for 14 years. When his manager left for Harlequin Rugby Club, he was asked to join him, and he worked there as chef and head waiter for seven years.
Then Guy Matthews brought him home to work at The Coachhouse for two years before transferring him to the Magoebaskloof Hotel, where he stayed another ten years.
Then the Krugers offered him his current job in 2001 and he has certainly made it his own. He bemoans the fact that so many young newcomers to the hospitality industry leave as soon as they are trained. He enjoys cooking and checking the food in the kitchen, but enjoys speaking with guests in the dining room the most. He is the ultimate host.