In the pantheon of chefs with their own TV series, the star of Cooking Channel’s “Sarah Graham’s Food Safari” stands alone in at least one regard: She’s comfortable around potentially deadly wildlife.

Indeed, the South African chef, author and food blogger was raised on her parents’ wildlife preserve, Antelope Park in Zimbabwe, where as a child Graham helped raise lion cubs and take visitors on safari. So the big cats, elephants and other ferocious beasts that turn up on her half-hour Saturday morning program do not faze her.

In fact, she makes them part of the show.

“The lions, they are something I love so much,” Graham tells Zap2it, “and so we literally did grow up with lion cubs in our home, bottle-feeding them in the middle of the night. When they’re really young, they’re like babies. They have to have a bottle of milk every three or four hours and it’s a really special experience.”

“We can only really physically interact with them until they’re about 22 months old,” she continues. “After that, it’s no longer safe.”

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In Season 1, Graham takes viewer to locations in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa, preparing meals from locally sourced ingredients in an outdoor kitchen. After spending the first few episodes showing viewers the sights in Antelope Park, Graham moved on to the majestic Victoria Falls and then to the site of this week’s show, Livingstone in Zambia.

“That was such a fun episode,” she says. “It’s right on the banks of the Zambezi River … . It’s just immense and it’s so beautiful. So we cook on the banks of the river at a safari lodge in Livingstone … just a few kilometers upstream from the Victoria Falls. And I cook dinner for some of the guys … who also work on our lion conservation project. And it’s actually kind of an Asian-inspired feast but it’s really … fitting to the location.”

Posted by:George Dickie