RIP MOOSE MCGREGOR (28/10/2014 – 18/01/2014)
By Jana-Mari Smith
Percy Cross McGregor (a.k.a Moose), the iconic pastry chef of the Namib Desert, died this past Saturday afternoon in Solitaire.
Moose’s friends and family mourn the passing of a man who put the the small settlment of Solitaire on the map, by providing his world famous German apple crumble (Apfelstrudel) to weary travellers filling up their fuel tanks.
The fame of Moose, and his apple crumble, ensured that anyone visiting the south of Namibia made a mandatory stop at the Solitaire petrol station, not only to fill up on petrol but on the sweet treat too. It is well known that even those with full petrol tanks, stopped simply to get a taste of something freshly baked from the bakery pit-stop.
The Moose McGregor’s Desert Bakery, located on the crossroads of the C14 and C19 highways – a crucial link that takes visitors to the iconic Sossusvlei or Swakopmund or Windhoek – not only supplied this delicious treat, but also offered a wide array of savoury and other sweet baked goods, including home made breads and butter.
Friends and colleagues explained that on Saturday afternoon, Moose experienced difficulty of breath and was taken to the nearby Solitaire Country lodge. The Sesriem ambulance was not available at the time, and while his friends helped him into the car to take him to the nearest hospital, McGregor passed away. It has not yet been confirmed what the exact cause of death was.
The news of his passing quickly made the rounds around the world and in Namibia, as Moose’s presence at the Solitaire bakery for more than 20 years had earned him a well loved reputation. In the book Namibia Space by Julienne Du Toit, Moose is quoted as saying that he settled in the remote outpost of Solitaire because he “liked the barking geckos and the stars … It’s like nature switches on a Christmas tree here every night”.
A candle was lit in the bakery this weekend, and placed next to a photo of Moose in his baking gear. Friends say that he always said he would like to be buried in Solitaire, but that his family (parents and four sisters) still have to confirm whether this will be the case.
Moose was 56 years old.