BEEFING UP THEIR CULLINARY CAREERS
Red Meat Academy class of 2015 graduation
26 students graduated yesterday with skills that will hopefully change their and their families’ lives forever. An initiative between the South African Red Meat Industry Forum and South African Chefs Association (SACA) is creating career opportunities for enthusiastic future chefs, and making it possible for them to ‘cook for life’.
This Culinary Education programme called “A si phekeleni impilo” - Let’s Cook for Life, is assisting the Red Meat Industry in fulfilling its desire to empower, build and certificate a new class of professionally trained individuals.
Dave Ford, the Executive Director of the South African Feedlot Association (SAFA) and the Chairperson of the Red Meat Industry Forum ( RMIF ) took the idea of a Red Meat Academy empowerment initiative to the SA Chefs Association last year who embraced it wholeheartedly and designed the nine week course material which is made up of practical and theoretical training and includes a three week placement at a restaurant or catering establishment. SAFA is part of the South African Red Meat Industry Forum and has been tasked with education and communication functions for the marketing of South African Beef, as well as the responsibility of the annual Cleaver Awards which recognise butcheries around the country for outstanding service, as voted for by their customers.
“SAFA is proud of our association with SACA and this empowerment initiative, enabling the upskilling of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who have an interest in the hospitality, food and beverage, restaurant and catering sectors. Together with valuable input from SACA, we have created a sustainable enterprise development programme that offers individuals the opportunity to obtain relevant catering and business skills to empower them to reach their full potential,” Dave Ford says.
Students are taught at both the Centre for Culinary Excellence (CCE) based at the University of Johannesburg in Auckland Park and the HTA School of Culinary Art, based in Randburg, one of the leading Culinary Schools in South Africa where the graduation ceremony and a red meat cooking competition amongst all students were hosted yesterday. The cooking competition, where students had to design their own recipe using a cut of red meat, and had two hours in which to prepare it, was judged by three esteemed chefs including Adrian Vigus-Brown, George Georgiou and executive Chef of the Sandton Convention Centre, James Khosa. Khosa commented that what he saw some of these students achieve in the kitchen yesterday after what amounts to only nine weeks of training, is better than he sees in some aspiring chefs who have had over five years of training!
The top student judged for her performance over the nine week course, who also came second in the cooking competition, was Lerato Molefe. The winner of the cooking competition was Thabang Langa, the son of a domestic worker who lives with his mother at their employer’s home in Athol Johannesburg. Langa and Molefe have proven their star status as they are two of the five Red Meat Academy students who have been chosen for the National Young Chef Training Programme (NYCTP ) at Capital Hotel School in Pretoria, a three year course after which these talented youngsters will graduate with a certificate in Culinary Arts and Food Preparation.
Thabang’s mother who attended yesterday’s graduation says that she is so proud of her son. “Thabang is going to be a very successful chef” she said after the event.
“These students have been given an amazing opportunity but they have done the work, and it has not been easy. There has been a lot of self-sacrifice, even in terms of transport to and from school and their work placements, some having to travel long distances. They are not only changing their lives, but the lives of their families,” says Stephen Billingham, President of the South African Chefs Association who spoke at yesterday’s graduation ceremony.
Students have benefited from industry placements at various prestigious restaurants and hotels during their nine week programme including the Local Grill in Parktown North, Melrose Arch African Pride Hotel and Hacklebrooke Estate, to name but a few, providing vital industry exposure that could well lead to long term employment and eventually self employment
Once word of mouth about this course spread earlier this year, SACA received 93 applications and 14 candidates were chosen for each of the first two courses initially being held. The courses are aimed at currently unemployed young black people who are South African citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 years, who reside in Gauteng and who are computer literate and have a matriculation certificate.
From learning how to prepare stock, consommé, soups and sauces, to learning the different cuts of red meat and suitable cooking methods and recipes for each, these students are not only being taught vital kitchen skills such as health, hygiene, cold chain management and workplace safety in the food preparation environment, but are also being taught imperative skills such as the financial aspects of running a business, including basic stock taking, food costing and ordering procedures. These skills will no doubt equip these students not only for possible self-employment but will also raise the quality of the Hospitality and Catering sector.
Popi Tomazos, operating partner at the Local Grill in Parktown North, thinks this is a fantastic initiative which could be of great benefit to the restaurant and hospitality industry. “The Industry cries out for committed, dedicated, passionate people. If the attitude is right, no doubt they will find a job,” she says, recognising that this course could really help students to find suitable employment. She says there is a shortage of good chefs in South Africa and will definitely be participating in this programme again .
While she feels that students could definitely benefit from longer practical time spent in the kitchen, a suggestion which both SACA and SAFA will be considering in future, she says that this practical side of the programme really helps student to get first-hand experience of what the industry is all about, what it means to be at the ‘coal face’. “The heat in the kitchen - literally and figuratively,” she says.
Lerato Setlale from Voslorus was the student chosen to do her practical at the Local Grill. She was told about the course by a neighbor and applied straight away. Lerato says that she found the course challenging but very enjoyable.
“The hardest part was learning the cuts of meat and the knife skills, but I found it very rewarding. I also enjoyed learning sauces and salads,” says Lerato who would love to work in a restaurant on a full time basis.
“She is a keen, enthusiastic young lady. She showed great interest, she tried to get involved with all elements in our kitchen, and as time went on she became far more confident in her approach,” says Tomazos about Lerato’s progress during her three week practical there.
Students Mpho Gift Phokela from Soweto and Kaptien Simon Modise, all the way from Villiers, were two of the top students from the inaugural programme chosen to shadow Chef Adrian Vigus Brown at the five star Melrose Arch African Pride Hotel, no doubt an enviable placement given that Adrian at only 26 years of age not only manages a kitchen with 28 staff but is also the Chairperson of the South African Chefs Association (SACA) Young Chefs Club, an ideal role model and mentor.
Modise, whose dream it is to work in a hotel, heard about this programme from his brother. He arranged to stay with a family member in Midrand in order to attend the nine week course, which, because of the sponsorship by the Red Meat industry Forum, is free to all students who are accepted.
He loved working with the banqueting station and learning how to work with red meat and while he admits that all the elements had challenging aspects, he enjoyed them all. “I was happy to work in a kitchen team where if one person is battling with something, there is someone to help you and you learn,” he says.
Phokela from Soweto heard about the course from his father who is a waiter at a Johannesburg Golf Club. He found working with Chef Adrian inspirational and, like Modise, loved the teamwork element of working in a kitchen. He wants to study further.
“The entire group has exceeded our expectations with regards to commitment, dedication and talent. There are quite a few culinary masters in the making in the 28 candidates we selected. All workplaces who agreed to take the students for a three week period have been extremely pleased, not only by what they learned in three short weeks, but by their humble attitude and commitment. We are proud to be a partner in such a valuable programme and will endeavour to find employment, through our employment officer, for all candidates,” says Elsu Gericke, Certification Manager at SACA who was integral in designing the course material
“You have been given a phenomenal opportunity but it’s only the beginning. If you are willing to work hard, opportunities are there for the taking,” was Billingham’s advise to the students about working in the catering and hospitality industry, and industry which he believes, is the fasted growing employment sector in the country with a myriad of opportunities for those with the right attitude , drive and self discipline
Attitude and drive is exactly what 25 year old Red Meat Academy student Gift Tshabalala has. Upon being accepted into the Red Meat Academy some months ago, he established his own business in Thokoza. Called Mshengu Meat Distribution, this young entrepreneur has employed his sister, secured a meat sponsorship from a butchery, and from Monday to Saturday supplies his customers with Braaied meat, pap and gravy.
The South African Red Meat Industry Forum has afforded these students an opportunity of a lifetime – and the world really is their oyster!
GIVE YOUR BUTCHER STAR STATUS!
Voting lines now open to nominate your favourite butcher for a 2012 Cleaver Award
Johannesburg, 06 September 2012 – Does your butcher provide premium quality, hygiene, service and value?
Vote today and give your butcher star status by nominating them for a 2012 Cleaver Award.
Butcheries awarded with a Cleaver Award signify that their customers recognise superior value, service and surpassed expectations.
These Awards, now in their seventh year, have grown in popularity with more and more customers voting each year.
Initially 2 500 entries were received in the inaugural Cleaver Awards held in 2005, with this figure steadily increasing every year.
A record 21 865 nominations were received in 2011. Furthermore, butchery standards have significantly improved since the start of these Awards.
Consumers are urged to SMS the butchery’s name, suburb and town to 34194 before 31 December 2012.
Consumers who nominate a National winning butchery could also win a R 1 500 hamper of wholesome South African Beef. SMS nomination entries are charged at R 1, 00.
Butchers are judged according to three categories namely;
- Butcheries with fouror more till points,
- Butcheries with three or fewer till points and,
- Foodmarket butcheries
Once the votes are tallied, butcheries will be short-listed according to the number of votes received in each respective category.
The short-listed finalists will be visited anonymously and independent evaluations by an Industry evaluator against a 212 point checklist will be conducted.
Each National Category Winner will be awarded a first prize of a Platinum Trophy and R 20 000. A second prize of a Gold trophy and R 10 000 will also be awarded.
There will be a Platinum and Gold Award winner chosen in each of the nine provinces. Winners will be announced at an awards function early next year.
Vote today and give your butcher star status!
Issued on behalf of the South African Red Meat Industry Forum by:
The Write Agency
011 467 5368 / 083 264 6563