Cape Town – As the old adage goes, “there is a strong woman behind every successful man”.
At The Table Bay at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, there is team of strong and talented women behind Executive Chef Keshan Rambarun.
In the last 30 years, more women have become employed and self-employed in the culinary sector than ever before. Yet, top chef positions in professional kitchens still tend to be held by men.
This doesn’t deter any of the young women who are blazing a trail for girls in the culinary field.
Since winning the Chefs Who Share Young Chef of the Year Award in 2016, 28-year-old pastry chef Lee- Andra Govender has conducted her internship at the Michelin star restaurant Vineet Bhatia in London. She was part of the opening team at Sun International’s Time Square in Tshwane Gauteng, and now heads up the party kitchen at The Table Bay.
Young as she may be, she has enough experience to offer young aspiring chefs this advice: “Being a chef isn’t easy. It means long, strange hours.
"It requires constant learning and innovation. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done, it can!”
Roslind Daniels, a 22-year-old Sous Chef at The Table Bay, says: “This is actually a women’s world they got it twisted as usual.”
She says young women considering a career in the culinary field should choose their career carefully though. “The kitchen is not for the fainthearted and it can get really tough.”
Regina Motaung, also a Sous Chef at the hotel, agrees; “I would advise young women who are considering a career hospitality to research the industry, even if it means going to volunteer in hotels for few day just to experience the environment.
"Take time to master your skill by starting from the bottom and working your way up the ranks. Make education a priority and never stop learning,” she advises, adding that self-awareness and confidence are important.
“Being a woman leader in the man’s world is not a burden but a platform to inspire and motivate others.”
Chef de Partie Amy Moore has been with The Table Bay for a year, having completed her studies at the Cape Town Hotel School.
Still climbing the ranks, she says: “This field is thrilling but tough. We work in an industry where men are considered more capable, because of the long hours, pressure and heat of the kitchen.
"When I was a student I was eager to learn from as many sections in the kitchen as possible and when I went into the hot section, I was told ‘this is no place for a woman to be’. This is the sad truth we face, but we need to be strong, we need to fight to prove our worth.
"Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You are capable of whatever you put your mind too. Your only obstacle is your own limitations.”
Silvia Fulani, a Demi Chef who has worked at The Table Bay for 15 years, believes that anyone considering a career in the kitchen should be inspired by food and cooking.
“You have to be passionate and be inspired by what you do. I learn new things every day and to be able to show off my skills motives me and inspires me to keep learning and keep getting better.
"I enjoy working in our team, respecting each other, learning from each other and helping each other grow. I also want to further my studies, and knowing the company can assist me motivates me to work even harder,” she says.
Chef de Partie, Farzanah Harris, agrees: “I get inspiration from everything around me, seeing fresh fruit and vegetables, plating ideas, and even colour schemes give me new ideas.
"I love to try new flavour combinations, even things that shouldn’t belong together, this changes the way I taste food and keeps me inspired. I look more for a flavour experience than anything else.
"I also like to check social media and stay on top of the trends as this gives me new ideas and fresh perspective.”
She concludes with a few words by an unknown author that have become her mantra for life: “Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect and mirror what you admire”.