Owners of guest houses, taverns, diners and catering companies expecting to play host to the visitors coming to South Africa for next year's Fifa World Cup should put the new Skills Kitchen to use.

Opened in June by the South African Chefs Association (SACA), it is a state-of-the-art facility, including a demonstration theatre, designed to address the skills shortage in the hospitality industry.

It is an extension of the Centre for Culinary Excellence at the University of Johannesburg's School of Tourism and Hospitality in Auckland Park, which was set up with the support of major players in the hospitality industry such as Southern Sun.

SACA says the aim of the Skills Kitchen is not to replace traditional culinary schools, but rather to offer short courses of one, five or 10 days in length.

The courses, it says, "act as an intensive injection of basic craft skills designed for junior cooks, commis chefs, kitchen attendants, fast food assistants and anyone connected to the food industry who would like to improve their skills".

The association says courses will be inexpensive as it is a non-profit organisation with a mandate to develop cookery skills.

Recently I visited the kitchen, which has been equipped by Vulcan, and spoke to students who were in their second day of training.

There were students who had come from as far as a guest house in Mhluzi township in Middelburg to upgrade their culinary skills, staff from a local conference centre and commis chefs from local hotels who all enthused about what they had learned in the short time they had been there.

Their skills facilitator, chef Stephen Morris, showed me around the kitchen as students were making potato croquettes and poaching fish which they were going to enjoy for their lunch.

He said people from all walks of life have been attending courses.

"I have had students who have no kitchen knowledge at all to students who currently work in kitchens and want to increase their knowledge and upgrade their skills," he said.

"There are no requirements for attending the courses and if anyone is keen, they should contact SACA for more information," added Morris.

The five-day Skills Foundation programme includes the following topics:

  • Maintain a secure and safe working environment.
  • Maintain health, hygiene and a professional appearance.
  • Maintain hygiene in food preparation, cooking and storage areas.
  • Handle and maintain knives.
  • Prepare fruit for hot and cold dishes.
  • Prepare vegetables for hot and cold dishes.
  • Prepare cold and hot sandwiches.
  • Prepare and microwave food.
  • Prepare and fry or grill food.
  • Prepare and bake food.
  • Prepare and boil, poach or steam food.
  • The cost of this course is R1 710 including VAT.

    To book contact Janet at 011 482 7250 or email her on [email protected]