There is no need to start packing for Switzerland in order to gain an international cooking diploma. The prestigious cooking academy to which celebrity chef, restaurateur and best-selling author of Leith’s Cookery Bible, Prue Leith, has lent her name, offers this prospect to those aspiring chefs who prefer to pursue their studies on South African soil. Even though the savings offered by unnecessary airfares and costly overseas accommodation may be substantial, the learners at this facility will benefit from the expert skills and experience of tutors who are themselves accomplished chefs and are the equal of any to be found in Europe’s acclaimed centres of culinary learning.
Prue’s role in this establishment did not end with her granting her nominal stamp of approval to this chef’s academy and its cooking diplomas. Her opinions continue to contribute to all matters of policy and she conducts annual inspections to ensure that the curriculum, to which she was a major contributor, the food and the teaching services continue to conform to the highest international standards.
The Johannesburg-born personality has been awarded no less than 11 honorary degrees or fellowships by universities in the United Kingdom and received the coveted Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year award in 1990 after having gained an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to her profession in the previous year. A more fitting patron for this exceptional learning establishment would be hard to find. She constitutes the DNA of a company that is dedicated to excellence and an exceptional cooking academy that has provided a launching pad for the careers of numerous gourmet chefs.
The curriculum is extensive and provides learners with a wide range of choices that includes such options as the “Grande Diploma in Culinary Arts & Wine”, the ALMA “Professional Chef of Italian Cuisine”, a Diploma in Patisserie, and a Certificate in Sugarcraft. In addition to providing learners with the means to prepare for a new career, a cooking diploma can also prove helpful to someone who, perhaps, is already employed in a junior capacity within the hospitality industry but who may wish to obtain a formal qualification in order to further his or her career. To cater for this type of requirement, the Centurion-based cooking academy offers a block release option that enables learners to pursue part-time studies on Saturdays with the cooperation of their employers who, in some cases, may also undertake to finance their participation.
For those whose interest may be more personal than professional or who may simply wish to dip a metaphorical toe in the water, there are also a number of short courses dedicated to subjects such as bread making, pasta and sauces or advanced cake making and decorating.
While the Prue Leith Chefs Academy is not the only training establishment for chefs in South Africa, the facilities that it offers the learner are quite exceptional and includes a well-stocked library featuring some of the world’s foremost cookery publications, invaluable to diploma students. In addition, it provides PCs, internet access, TV and a collection of culinary DVDs. It is in the two well-appointed kitchens, however, that the fledgling chefs will learn to soar with eagles.
The main kitchen is the one used by learners during their 2nd semester and also services the Prue Leith restaurant, where their efforts are showcased. It has separate sections devoted to hot and cold preparation and pastry, each of which is managed by a team of 3 specialist sous chefs. The first semester is spent in the training kitchen and it is here where the basic foundational skills are practiced, while an air-conditioned lecture theatre provides the venue for theory instruction with accommodation and advanced audio-visual facilities for up to 40 learners.
The Prue Leith diploma graduate is uniquely positioned in holding an international qualification from this prestigious City & Guilds approved cookery academy that is recognised nationwide as a mark of excellence.