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The chef and hospitality industry is definitely living up to its potential of being a major source of jobs, and for those with the proper qualifications there are many opportunities to work abroad.
That’s the message from Cheryl Nesbitt, founder and owner of Capsicum Culinary Studio, a national network of schools for the culinary arts that provides training towards internationally recognised qualifications.
“There was a lot of talk about opportunities in the he hospitality industry around the soccer World Cup,” Nesbitt says, “but the truth is that there have always been opportunities in the industry, and these are continuing to grow.”
In fact, there are claims that South Africa has a shortage of 24 000 qualified chefs.
Nesbitt points out that most people associate job opportunities for chefs with work in hotels and restaurants, but it goes a lot further than that.
“We do have graduates working at most of the top hotels and restaurants,” she says, “but there are only a limited number of those. There are all sorts of opportunities for qualified chefs in a wide range of institutions. These include prisons, hospitals and schools. They can also be employed in corporate kitchens, and by commercial catering companies.”
The shortage of 24 000 chefs refers to opportunities in those sorts of industries, Nesbitt points out, and there is, of course, also space for the entrpreneurially minded individual who wants to start a business.
Opportunities overseas abound, according to Nesbitt.
“Being a chef is not regarded as a prestigious occupation in many European countries, so South Africans with internationally recognised qualifications are sought-after,” she says.
“Those who have received the proper grounding are popular because of their discipline and work ethic.”
Capsicum was started by Nesbitt in Cape Town in 2003, in response to a need for quality training in the culinary arts.
Nesbitt is passionate about food and education and she wanted to develop a curriculum that would equip students with the skills required upon graduating, instead of expecting them to exit with a theoretical qualification then have to learn practical skills on the job.
The are now Capsicum schools in Cape Town, Durban, Centurion, Boksburg and Port Elizabeth.
From the beginning, Nesbitt realised that the qualifications awarded needed to be highly transportable.
So Capsicum went for the City and Guilds-accredited professional chef and hospitality qualifications.
It offers several City and Guilds courses, including a certificate and a diploma course, a diploma in patisserie and an advanced diploma. It also runs three hospitality courses, specialising in aspects of hotel management.
“I have always believed it was important to have an international qualification,” Nesbitt says.
“It allows the qualified chef to seek work overseas and to gain wider experience.
“We encourage our graduates to work overseas, but do not believe in contributing to the brain drain. So, we want our graduates to abroad, to learn new things and then to come home and implement them to the betterment of the local industry.”
Nesbitt wanted to provide a qualification that can be built on through further study overseas, so she has partnered with overseas institutions such as DCT in Lucerne, Switzerland, and Swan Tafe in Australia.
Next year, an eight-week diploma course in chocolate and confectionery will be introduced – the only one of its kind in South Africa.
l For more information call 086 111 2433 or e-mail enquiry@capsicum cooking.co.za. Visit www.capsicum cooking.co.za