Catering Academy Johannesburg

Some years ago a small group of enterprising people saw a niche growing in the catering industry in South Africa. For many years they had admired the improving standards of South Africa’s game lodges and hotels, but kept on hearing the same story from the different owners, that it was difficult to obtain and hold on to well-motivated and expert staff.  With this in mind in 1997 they founded a Catering Academy near to Johannesburg. The Prue Leith College of Food and Wine is situated in a quiet suburb of Centurion halfway between Pretoria and Johannesburg. The academy was opened with the sole aim of producing professionals for this vacant niche. What tourists to South Africa wanted, they saw, was simple stylish food of exceptional quality and having a distinctly South African flavour.

The academy has its own an on-site restaurant that specializes in simple, freshly made dishes made from the best of South African produce. Students are accepted into the college after passing their Matric examination at least at standard grade. They have to be at least seventeen years of age. The course at the academy lasts for eighteen months, this being split into three semesters of six months each. Courses start in January and July and there are three courses that run concurrently. Students who are accepted into the academy must report for both academic and practical work experience, the latter being carried out in the college kitchens and in the evenings in the on site restaurant, Prue Leith’s. Students take orders at table, prepare and serve the meals, as well as acting as Maître d’Hotel, Front of House and wine steward. Work done in the restaurant by students is always under professional supervision and is of such a standard that Business Day has ranked the restaurant in the top twenty restaurants in the country and the top ten restaurants in Gauteng. Prue Leith’s restaurant has been awarded its Blaizon from the Chaine Des Rotisseurs.

During their time at this catering academy near Johannesburg, students are placed at selected game lodges, restaurants and hotels across South Africa as well as in Europe for two eight-week periods in their second and third semesters. This enables them to get first hand exposure to the harsh realities of the actual workplace. Their training at the academy also includes time outdoors at the 24-seat college boma, where they get used to the art of Bush Cooking as well as experience in other types of African cuisine. Prue Leith and other industry leaders take time to visit the college and give regular demonstrations and lectures on a wide variety of aspects of a culinary nature. These include Hygene, Nutrition, Job Interviews and Indian, Thai and Japanese cuisine. Included as part of the course is the Cape Wine Academy Certificate Course, in which students must participate in order to graduate. The academy also offers a very popular tour of the Western Cape wine lands if there are enough students to participate.