Crème de la Crème of Catering Colleges
It’s sometimes almost impossible to believe that it is now more than20 years since the 1996/7 inception of our catering college in Centurion. Who are we? We’re proud to be known as South Africa’s premier school of culinary arts – Prue Leith’s. Our group was established in 1996, and operations commenced early in 1997.
Need to Upgrade Professional Training
As mentioned, it all began in second half of the 1990s, when four forward-thinking, entrepreneurial hoteliers decided that the training of chefs in South Africa needed to be greatly improved. They were passionate about fine food and the talented and skilled professional chefs required to create, produce, and present culinary delights to discerning diners in this country. All were closely allied to the hospitality industry and they all found that, more often than not, it was difficult – sometimes impossible! – to recruit locally trained chefs of distinction when they needed them. This led to them having to recruit chefs from abroad and afar, but distance precluded personal, face-to-face interviews.
Frequently, Murphy’s Law prevailed. Once the new chef arrived and assumed his/her duties, it might happen that the incumbent fell far short of expectations and required skills, By then, a lot of money had been spent and a great deal of time wasted. The recruitment process would have to begin again, from scratch, and with no guarantee of success.
The Solution – Setting Benchmark Standards
There was only one solution for people with and entrepreneurial bent – create a new catering college and chefs’ academy, recruit lecturers who were equally passionate about food from within the industry, equip the college with state-of-the-art kitchens and cooking equipment, design comprehensive curricula, and set the benchmark for professional chefs’ training in South Africa. Only one question remained. What should they name their new catering college in Centurion? It would serve the college well to choose a name that would be instantly recognisable and one that people would automatically and internationally associate with the catering industry.
Enter Prue Leith CBE
One answer and one name emerged clearly above all others – Prue Leith. Prue Leith CBE, a Michelin-starred chef in her own right, sold her own cooking school in 1995, so she was no stranger to the training of chefs to her own high standards. Prue loved the idea and concept, and readily agreed to allow our college’s founders to use her name for the academy, the first time she ever allowed such use. Prue was also involved in the development of our curricula and we regularly consult her when decisions of consequence are to be made that concern the Centurion college that bears her name. She also visits us regularly and her input continues to be invaluable.
At our Centurion college, we have three principle kitchens, a training kitchen with 20 fully equipped stations, a patisserie kitchen that features ten stations and air conditioning (essential for professional patisserie making), and a restaurant kitchen, divided into hot, cold, and pastry kitchens. This latter kitchen serves our fine dining restaurant in Centurion. Two large lecture rooms and a student library complete the campus facilities. It’s no wonder that our Centurion catering college is so highly regarded in our industry. The same applies to our graduates and of course, our patron, Prue Leith.