If you’re a self-confessed foodie, passionate about good food and its preparation, and an avid follower of televised amateur and professional cooking competitions, you will be delighted to know that world-class chef training is available to you and fellow South Africans at our City & Guilds accredited cooking school, right on your doorstep in Johannesburg, Gauteng.
At our prestigious chef and cooking school, Prue Leith, standards are equivalent to or better than those at many international schools, to the extent that a number of our graduates have been able to pursue their careers most successfully abroad. Some have gone on to work in the acclaimed kitchens of renowned chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay, the Roux brothers and Jamie Oliver.
Beginnings of a Group
Four passionate, enterprising boutique hotel senior employees and owner/operators, respectively from the Impala Inn, Mount Sheba Hotel, Glenshiel Country Lodge, and the Hulala Lakeside Lodge – located across the northern regions of South Africa – recognised the need to establish a local professional academy where aspirant chefs could be equipped with world-class culinary skills.
All the establishments from whence they came were well-known for fine dining and a consistently excellent table. Because South Africa possessed insufficient locally trained chefs (and cooking schools) of top international standards at the time, such kitchen professionals had to be headhunted or sourced from abroad.
Unfortunately, not all these folks proved to be as suitable as they initially appeared to be on paper; a fact which could only be ascertained once they’d arrived here and commenced their employment. In such instances, this became a time consuming, expensive and frustrating exercise in futility and disappointment for all concerned parties.
This was felt throughout the burgeoning hospitality industry in South Africa, which was fast becoming a destination of choice for discerning overseas visitors, who expected and were accustomed to fine dining, irrespective of where they travelled.
Clearly, something had to be done to address this problem, and that is precisely what these four courageous entrepreneurs set out to accomplish when they joined forces in 1996. Since their new training institute had to be named, they wisely realised the importance of incorporating an instantly and widely recognised, respected name within their school’s title, and the best choice was obvious to them.
Enter, the Patron
Upon being approached by the four entrepreneurs, Prue Leith CBE was so impressed by their concept and business plans for establishing a professional school of cooking, that she not only allowed her name to be used as that of the academy, but she also became actively involved in lending her extensive knowledge and chef college experience to the team in the development of the curriculum.
She had previously run her own school of culinary arts – a school of food and wine, which bore her name. The institute and its associated businesses were sold in 1995 in order to allow Prue to meet demands on her time emanating from other interests and sources, one of which was writing novels; a progression from writing numerous sought after cookbooks and culinary guides.
It is interesting to note that Prue’s novels contain elements of and references to food in various forms – be it a fictitious food journalist, Downing Street cook, or the restaurant business, which she knows so intimately.
Prue continues to be actively involved in our academy, visiting us each year to ascertain that our top international standards are maintained. She also consults whenever vital decisions, changes and improvements are to be made.
It remains an honour and privilege for our institute to have a world-renowned, Michelin-starred chef as our patron – something which few other similar organisations can claim. Although our group, consisting of the chef academy and an on-site fine dining restaurant, was founded in 1996, operations only commenced the following year and continue to go from strength to strength, much as our graduates do.
What This Means for Our Students
Undertaking your culinary studies and qualifying at our academy will continue to pay dividends for each and every one of our students for the duration of their professional lives. This institute is regarded as the finest chefs training facility in South Africa by this country’s leading chefs and other culinary and hospitality industry professionals.
Regularly, numerous job vacancy ads state that only graduates from our leading chef school/cooking school need apply, so why study anywhere else?