Among South Africa’s Culinary Schools – A World-class Academy for Chefs

South Africans no longer need to attend culinary schools overseas in order to gain an international qualification. Since 1997, the nation’s aspiring young chefs have had access to a facility that rivals any to be found in the institutions of Paris, Rome, Vienna or Geneva. For many of the locals who remember her, the identity of its famous South African patron alone, is likely to be sufficient proof of its prestigious nature. Initially launched as the Prue Leith College of Food and Wine, this Gauteng-based teaching establishment has recently been renamed and is now known as the Prue Leith Chefs Academy.

While Prue is recognised internationally as a leading authority in her field, this popular TV Chef, restaurant owner and author, only lent her name to the Prue Leith Chefs Academy, because she shared the vision and the determination of the four founders who, in turn were quick to recognise the value of her patronage. All four have extensive experience in their fields, having been either owners or senior managers of some of the leading establishments within the country’s hospitality industry. All are dedicated to the common goal of developing young chefs with the exceptional skills that will prepare them to work in the world’s finest kitchens.

Prue’s direct involvement in drawing up the academy’s curriculum was based on her own lengthy experience of international cuisine and running a similar operation in the UK. She was careful to ensure that its content, together with the staff and facilities of the newly-founded culinary school, would satisfy the requirements of the City and Guilds of London that, in turn would qualify it to act as an external examination centre for this prestigious body. This has meant that its internationally-recognised exams can now be conducted in parallel with the internal exams of the academy.

The fact that the training provided by the Prue Leith Chefs Academy is effective is borne out by the success of our graduates, many of whom have found positions alongside some of the world’s best known chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and the Roux brothers. If that alone is not evidence enough that this South African culinary school in Centurion stands head and shoulders above the rest, then perhaps the knowledge that many of the nation’s leading restaurateurs and hoteliers now recruit their kitchen staff exclusively from the Prue Leith Chefs Academy, will be.

Our academy offers plenty of choice for those who wish to pursue a cooking career or even just to develop a new skill for their personal enjoyment. Both long and short courses are offered, and are routinely conducted on a full-time basis, but block release programmes can also be arranged. This option allows candidates who are already employed to study for a higher qualification also. The curriculum includes courses such as the Grande Diploma in Culinary Arts & Wine, the Diploma in Patisserie and the ALMA Professional Chef of Italian Cuisine; a course conducted partly in the South African culinary school and completed at one of Italy’s premier institutions in Parma.

Everything an aspiring cook needs has been provided at our institution, which is widely acclaimed as the very best of its kind that the nation has to offer. Theoretical aspects of the course are delivered by our experienced lecturers in a modern auditorium that is air conditioned and equipped with the latest audio-visual teaching aids. Further research may be pursued in the well-stocked library that, in addition to its printed works, also features a prolific collection of video material.

When it is time to start cooking, the training and main kitchens are spacious, fully-equipped and professionally supervised. Basics are taught in the training kitchen and honed in the main facility, which has three areas dedicated to hot and cold cuisine and patisserie respectively. For those who pursue their training at our exceptional culinary school, the experience will be nothing short of life-changing.