The young chefs at the Lathitha School of Skills in Khayelitsha were put to the test last week when they were asked to prepare a meal for a panel of judges.
The pupils had to make a main dish, drink and dessert on their own, using the school’s equipment, and present it to professional chefs in the presence of the media.
They lived up to the challenge and were commended by all those who gathered at the school on Wednesday November 21 to taste their food.
The new chefs said the dishes were influenced by their backgrounds but mostly by Western cuisine.
In groups they presented the dishes to the judges and observers who then gave feedback.
“Our objective was to get experts to judge their dishes,” said teacher Ayabulela Dek.
“When we considered this activity we were clear that we do it want people to simply agree on whatever they hear but wanted professionals to tell us the true story and where we can get it right. We also invited the chefs into the school environment so that they can share their experience with our children.”
Ms Dek said she was proud that the school’s pupils would go out into the world with skills. Top Khayelitsha chef and a former member of the South African Chefs’ Association, Abe Bhokwe, was very impressed.
However, he said there is room for improvement.
Mr Bokwe said he is planning to send a couple of chefs to assist three times a week at the school. He said what he noticed from the children is that they are not aware that they are in a big industry.
“They did well and are learning well. We want to be involved to develop cooking skills at the school.
“I have tried to help them here and there. Next year we will do cooking with other chefs,” he said.
Mr Bokwe also made a call to parents to encourage children to take up cooking as a career.
He said there should be master chefs coming out of the townships whether it is Khayelitsha , Langa, Mfuleni or Mitchell’s Plain.
He commended the school for encouraging its children to learn to cook. “Cooking is not just an ordinary thing but we are in a big industry. It should be respected and treated with the respect it deserves,” he said.