The deceptively modest title of cooking school fails to do justice to the extensive facilities and the wealth of expertise that a learner can look forward to experiencing if he or she should choose to attend one of the various culinary courses offered at the Prue Leith Chefs Academy in Centurion. Of course, one should not underrate the value of those wonderful lessons that may be gleaned from a parent or a grandparent in a home kitchen. However, for those whose ambitions may extend beyond producing the perfect koeksister, pot brood or waterblommetjie bredie for a family of four, the academy could be the gateway to a successful career as an international chef de cuisine.
Many South Africans will already be very familiar with the name Prue Leith, daughter of famed local actress Margaret Inglis and the founder patron of this prestigious cooking school. She is equally well-known in London as a celebrity TV chef, an accomplished culinary author and novelist as well as a highly successful restaurateur, all of which have served to underwrite the impeccable credentials of this well-respected, teaching establishment on the outskirts of the capital.
The academy was, in fact, the brainchild of a group of four hospitality industry professionals, either owner/operators or drawn from the senior staff of leading boutique hotels in the north of South Africa. Their idea of creating an international-grade training facility at home to eliminate dependence on overseas facilities proved so appealing that Prue was convinced to lend her name to the venture as well as assist the group to develop its curriculum. Since then, this cooking school has been rated regularly by the country’s top chefs and other leading lights in the industry as the finest source of training of chefs in the land.
Apart from the proven expertise of its accomplished staff, the campus facilities are unsurpassed. Beyond the air-conditioned lecture room with its advanced audiovisual facilities there is an extensive library of literature from leading international and local sources, featuring both printed and digital content. When it is time to step up to the hotplate, each learner is issued with a full set of equipment. The main kitchen and training kitchens are equal of any other in the world. The training kitchens meet the needs of learners during their 1st commis semester who, when progressing to their second semester, occupy the main facility where the division into hot, cold and pastry areas serve to shield their respective users from distractions. The main facility also provides kitchen services for the Prue Leith Restaurant where the more advanced learners at the cooking school can showcase their talents.