Local chef gives back to his community by starting a free culinary school
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Cape Town - Dubbed as one of the best chefs by his community, Vincent Ngwenya from Nomzamo in Strand, wanted to take more more chefs under his wing.
The 37-year-old qualified chef opened a free hospitality school for his community. He has more than 15 years of experience from different restaurants.
“This has been a dream for me for many years and it makes me happy that I made it a reality.”
Ngwenya works full-time as a chef then knocks off at 4pm to start teaching at 4.30pm. He also owns a restaurant well known for its appetizing pizza’s called Vinnie’s Pizza.
“I did not want to give back to the community by hiring locals in my business only, but also teach them skills they can use to either start their own business or stand better chances of finding employment.”
He currently teaches 46 people who started in May, and they are set to graduate at the beginning of next year.
He is registered as an NPO and runs the classes with funds from his own pocket.
“The response from the community shows that people do want to do something about their lives, they just need chances. Since we started, there has been no absenteeism and I step into the class – you see the hunger of wanting to learn from the faces of the students.”
After he opened the school, two more people wanted to offer free additional services from his premises.
Aphiwe Kapa, who owns a clothing company Kapa Clothing, is offering free sewing classes. Kapa Clothing has designed clothes for celebrities, well-known pastors and members of parliament including former DA member Phumzile van Damme. High school students are also being taught mathematics, physical and life sciences for free, by a tutor Mphumezi Gxwekwa.
“Sewing classes are offered for a year,” said Kapa.
“Vinnie approached me with this vision and I saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community. All we want to bring is change, using our skills even if it is little change, we will be happy.”
Ngwenya said running all these programmes is costly but he is not planning to stop, even if it means using money meant for his family. He said they struggle with stationery and other utilities.
“Young people lack skills and I want to partner with people who are willing to teach them. It is difficult to get tertiary education nowadays, if people like us with these skills can pass them on to young people, we will have a better South Africa. This country was built on ubuntu, where people shared without expecting anything in return, we can do it again if we come together.”