There are catering schools spread across the length and breadth of South Africa, but none as popular and vibrant as the Prue Leith Catering School in Centurion. This small catering school is situated in the picturesque garden suburb of Hennopspark, which is halfway between the Witwatersrand cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg. The location of the school is less than two kilometres from the N14 Highway between Krugersdorp and the administrative capital of South Africa, Pretoria.
A caterer is usually described as someone who provides the food for an event. This might be anything from an elaborate wedding to a corporate lunch, a garden party to a rugby club dinner. The main similarity between all of these examples is that the organizer of the event is not able to do all of the cooking herself, and has to call in an outside caterer to do so. There are many caterers throughout the world who have set up business themselves without ever setting foot inside a catering school, and often this is where things tend to go wrong. At a catering school there is normally a comprehensive coverage of culinary subjects so that the students who graduate do so with a thorough knowledge of their subject. This could not be more true than at the Prue Leith Catering College. The main course here lasts for eighteen months, starting in January and July of each year, and there are three courses that run concurrently.
A caterer for a particular event must be prepared for practically anything. They must not flinch at the occasional cloudburst if the event is to be held outdoors, they must cater not only for adults, but also for children, and they must be prepared to cater for people with unusual dietary needs, for example, diabetics, vegetarians, and for guests who can only eat kosher or halal foods. But the caterer’s job does not just end there, he must be able to acquire the various ingredients that make up the proposed meal, he must be able to cost and budget the meal and to discuss all aspects with his client, and above all he must leave the premises where the event is to take place in the same good order that he found it. A good catering school will prepare its students for any eventuality, and no school is more prepared or able to do this than the Prue Leith School in Centurion.
The Prue Leith Catering School is specifically geared towards the South African market, but many owners of game lodges, hotels and restaurants in the country have long been complaining of the shortage of highly motivated and well-trained staff. One of the school’s main aims is to address this shortage and to train their students specifically with the South African market in mind. To this end there is an emphasis on foods with a South African flavour, and part of the catering school’s course content includes Bush Cooking and pan African cuisine in an outdoor Boma.