A group of 13 residents from Stellenbosch are getting the opportunity to complete an internationally recognised-professional cooking programme, thanks to funding allocated by the Stellenbosch Mayoral Youth Skills Development Programme to Bergzicht Training.
The students will be trained at The Private Hotel School, with which Bergzicht Training has partnered to offer their City and Guilds’ Professional Cooking and Food and Beverage Service Programme.
Bergzicht Training is a Stellenbosch-based, non-governmental organisation dedicated to developing the skills of poor, unemployed, unskilled and semi-skilled individuals from communities in the Western Cape through its skills development programmes and courses.
The group kicked off their studies with a full-day orientation programme in order to gain insight into the hospitality industry. They visited Asara Wine Estate and a Fedics-run kitchen at Metanoia residence at Stellenbosch University.
They were welcomed to the programme by alumnus Godwin Mohamed, who works as a head chef at Tuk Tuk Microbrewery of the Leeuw Collection, which consists of three five-star boutique properties in South Africa.
The students were also welcomed by Jeanneret Momberg of Middelvlei Wines, and vice chairperson of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, and Dr Hannes Koornhof, a member of Bergzicht Training’s board of directors.
“Through this opportunity you will also be able to change socio-economic position for yourself and for your family,” said Ms Momberg.
“Today is the first day of the rest of your lives,” said Dr Koornhof.
“You are starting a new chapter in your life and the only question is, can you make a success of it or not. There are many factors that determine one’s success, but in the end the success of your career will be determined by one thing only – whether you take ownership of your success.”
Earlier in the day Xoliswa Mdemka, the portfolio councillor: youth, sports and culture, and Michelle Aalbers, manager: community development, met with the students the municipality is sponsoring.
“Grab this opportunity because there are many others like you who applied to do this programme and who wanted to be here, but you were the chosen few,” said Ms Mdemka.
Added Ms Aalbers: “All of those excellent chefs out there started where you are today.
“They started somewhere and just like you they knew absolutely nothing on that first day.
“It may feel as if you are far from your dreams, but the knowledge you will gain through grinding away in this industry every day will help you become excellent chefs.”