Chef’s Courses

There are several places in Gauteng where you can find chef’s courses, but for the best look no further than a small garden suburb in the heart of Centurion, midway between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Tucked away in a quiet back street in Hennopspark is the Prue Leith College of Food and Wine, undoubtedly the best college you can find for chef’s courses. The Prue Leith College was the brainchild of Tiny Barnetson and Graham Ledger, who started the college in 1996 after identifying a need in the South African catering industry. In 1996 South Africa had recently undergone a transformation – there was a new democratically elected government, sanctions had been lifted, and tourists were once more starting to stream into the country. There was one problem – many of the owners of prominent hotels, game lodges and restaurants were complaining that it was impossible to get good, reliable and well-motivated catering staff. Seeing this need, these two Gauteng businessmen started up the Prue Leith College, which would offer chef’s courses second to none.

What the foreign tourist and indeed the South African traveler wanted, it was believed, was stylish and simple food of exceptional quality and with a South African flavour. The Prue Leith Colleges has devised its courses to cater for just this need. In addition, the college’s own restaurant, Prue Leith’s, specializes in freshly made dishes made from the best of South African produce. If you are interested in attending the Prue Leith College, you must have passed Matric with at least a Standard Grade pass, and must have reached eighteen years of age. You will have to attend an interview at the college and fill in a questionnaire. If successful you may be accepted at the discretion of the college trustees.

One of the main beliefs of the college trustees is that, in order to retain academic knowledge gained in the classroom, it should be put into practice as soon as possible. For this reason both theoretical and practical training at the college are supplemented by extensive exposure to the realities of the workplace, under close professional supervision. The course at the Prue Leith College lasts for eighteen months and is spread over three six-month semesters. Courses start twice a year in January and July. From early on in their first term students are rostered into either day or evening shifts. Students who are rostered for the evening shift work in the restaurant, which is in the college grounds. Here they take orders, prepare and cook the food and serve at table. In addition more senior students will act as Maître d’Hotel, Wine Steward and Front of House.

Students also get first hand experience at Prue Leith Catering, a new branch of the college that was put into place in 2005. The catering company is just a couple of kilometres from the college and serves the whole of Gauteng. The catering company, which sports a brand new industrial kitchen, seeks to emulate the excellence of the College by delivering the highest quality food to a destination of the customer’s choice. By the time students have completed their eighteen months at the college they will know exactly what chef’s courses are all about, and be ready to tackle any catering job.