Not every cooking academy in South Africa is able to offer its learners the prospects of an international career. In fact, neither can there be many that can provide a dependable source of trained chefs who are qualified to international standards for placement within the local hospitality industry.
Typically, wherever such standards were required in the past, either by a learner or by a potential employer, it has proved necessary to source both tuition and suitable graduates from overseas – primarily from one of the recognised European centres of culinary expertise in European cities, such as Zurich, Paris, Vienna or Rome. Today, that is no longer true, and both learners and restaurateurs can satisfy these needs at a local cooking academy. In the space of just 17 years, our facility in Gauteng has succeeded in establishing itself as the finest training institution for chefs anywhere in the country and the equal of most in Europe.
The Prue Leith Chefs Academy was developed from the shared vision of four hospitality professionals who believed both in the need and in their ability to turn that vision into a reality. The founders, who were drawn from boutique hotel owners, restaurateurs and senior managers operating in the northern part of South Africa, also agreed that they needed a name that would gain instant recognition. As it happens, their vision was shared by one of the leading lights in international cooking, who granted the academy permission to incorporate her name into its title. So, in 1997 the concept took form and the Prue Leith College of Food & Wine was born.
Many South Africans are likely to remember Prue as the daughter of the once-famed local actress Margaret Inglis. However, today it is not her bloodline that distinguishes Prue, but her international reputation as a UK television chef, a Michelin-starred restaurateur and the author of innumerable cookery books, including Leith’s Cookery Bible which, after more than 20 years, is still an international bestseller. In addition, Prue was twice honoured by the Queen, first with an OBE and later with a CBE, as well as gaining the Veuve Clicquot award as Businesswoman of the Year.
Our prestigious cooking academy owes much of its success to Prue’s assistance in drafting its curriculum and planning its practical facilities. Her experienced input was particularly helpful in ensuring that our institution became an accredited examination centre for various culinary qualifications offered by the City & Guilds of London, and thus satisfying the dream of its founders – to establish its status as an internationally recognised training centre for South Africans.
Recently, our school has been renamed and is now known as the Prue Leith Chefs Academy, and our graduates are highly respected both locally and abroad. At home, it has become common practice for employers to advertise their preference for Prue Leith graduates, while many confine their search for suitable candidates to the recruitment facility on our website.
Learners may select from a variety of courses, including the Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts & Wine, the City & Guilds Diploma in Culinary Arts and Professional Chef of Italian Cuisine – a course in which the basic skills are taught locally and then honed to perfection at La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in Parma, one of Italy’s leading culinary training institutions. Despite the overseas component, both its convenience and costs differ little from courses conducted totally within the Prue Leith Chefs Academy.
Learners at our Centurion-based centre can look forward to exceptional facilities, for both their theoretical and practical studies. A library, well-stocked with both printed and digital reference works, offers a place for research and quiet study, while the basics are taught in our teaching kitchen and developed further in the main kitchen. Lectures conducted by professional chefs in air-conditioned comfort complete the offering at our leading international cooking academy.