The title of “chef school” is one that is often claimed without genuine justification. It has been applied to everything from guidance by a stay-at-home mom in the confines of her own kitchen and evening classes at an adult education centre, to professional tuition at an internationally recognised centre for instruction in the culinary arts. While the choice between such options is one that is often based upon cost, the option chosen will only represent a saving if it is justified by the results. In practice, although many of those who are looking for this type of instruction are interested purely from an amateur viewpoint, all learners are hoping to receive tuition that is of a professional standard.
Among the most common reasons for enrolling in one of South Africa’s chef schools is the desire to obtain a qualification that, as well as being recognised locally, will also be acceptable to a potential overseas employer. Typically, certification by the prestigious City & Guilds of London board provides the graduate with the guarantee of international recognition throughout all western countries, regardless of the specific discipline to which it may relate.
In the past, to gain access to such quality training meant studying in one of the major European cities, while recruiting culinary staff of international standards entailed canvassing agencies abroad. Needless to say, both of these practices carry substantial price tags. As a result of recognising these facts, four seasoned professionals from the hospitality industry undertook to establish a chef school in Gauteng in 1997 that would satisfy both the domestic and international aspirations of local learners; it marked the dawn of a new era in South African culinary education.
Located in Centurion and originally known as the Prue Leith College of Food & Wine, we have since been renamed as the Prue Leith Chefs Academy. There is little doubt that our academy’s famous patron, from whose name both titles were derived, has contributed much in establishing it as a centre of culinary excellence. Hailing from Johannesburg, Prue achieved fame as a TV celebrity chef, restaurateur, author and business woman in the United Kingdom. For her to take the unprecedented step of lending her name to this project was a mark of her faith both in the founders and in their admirable goal – to create a world-class chef school for South Africans.
With her extensive knowledge and experience of the culinary world and her insight into its training requirements, Prue helped to establish a curriculum, as well as a range of facilities designed to meet the highest international training standards. The result was that our academy is now accredited by the City & Guilds of London as one of its external examination centres.
For both theoretical and practical studies, our campus offers all of the necessary facilities to ensure that the needs of our aspiring chefs are met. Its spacious, air-conditioned lecture room provides comfortable accommodation for a maximum of 80 students and is fully-equipped with all of the latest audio-visual teaching aids – everything one might expect of world-class chef schools.
A well-stocked library offers the learner access to established culinary publications and includes subscriptions to world-renowned periodicals, such as Art Culinaire and Gastronomica. Digital facilities include computers with internet access and printer, as well as a TV with DVD player and an extensive collection of discs.
When it is time to practice that which was preached, our academy boasts two kitchens. The first is a training kitchen with 20 stations, where those in their first Commis Semester will learn their basic skills, and a main kitchen with division for hot and cold cuisine and pastry where, as 2nd Commis semester learners, they can hone them and specialise if required.
The Prue Leith academy includes a gourmet restaurant where learners can showcase their efforts and observe the masters in action at this exceptional chef school.