Since 2015 Sabi Sabi has supported a culinary educational programme originally proposed by Wilfred Mtshali, Head Chef at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge. Chef Wilfred had at that time approached Sabi Sabi with an idea of “paying it forward” – interning promising students for a 12 month course in the Sabi Sabi kitchens, young people who would never have the means to pay for such training. To Wilfred’s delight, Sabi Sabi – a company which always supports education and upliftment in our neighbouring communities – approved his proposal.
This initiative has had great success since its inception and has seen a number of graduates learning their way through the culinary world under the auspices of Wilfred Mtshali. These eager youngsters have since completed an in-house experiential learnership programme as well as speciality cuisine courses through the South African Chefs Association (SACA) where they are also registered members.
The latest graduate duo – Freedom Dlamini and Freedom Masinga – joined the Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge kitchen in mid-2017. From early morning till late at night, Wilfred taught them the fundamentals of cooking – from food preparation, time management and technique to the art of plating and serving – by no means a small feat for Freedom and Freedom, neither having prior experience in cooking. From bread baking to the creative process of dessert making, the two gentlemen proved their worth and their dedication to one of the most challenging industries. Taking into consideration that overseeing a kitchen involves so much more than creating menu concepts and preparing mouth-watering dishes, stock control and budgeting were included in their year-long training.
During their time at Sabi Sabi, the two Freedoms moved across all four of our five-star lodges to get a taste of the different styles of cuisine and operational requirements, maximising their exposure and understanding of all that Sabi Sabi has to offer.
Sabi Sabi elected to sponsor all costs for the learners to travel to Johannesburg and attend workshops through SACA, offering a comprehensive perspective on cuisine, speciality dishes, and international culinary influences. The basis of cooking – preparing stocks, soups and sauces from scratch were introduced first, building up to an introduction to fine dining.
The Lobster Ink training programme was also introduced in 2017 to enable members of the Sabi Sabi team to expand their knowledge and greatly enhance the experience of our guests, and these two learners successfully completed courses in restaurant operations and management, sommelier skills and upholding luxury food and beverage standards. Completing the above mentioned practical and theoretical training instilled confidence in them and the belief that they are capable and competent, and therefore highly employable. We are proud to announce they both have successfully gained employment and we wish them nothing but the very best for their bright, respective futures. And in saying farewell to them we say welcome to our new “batch” of 5 trainees who will undertake their time under the expert tutelage of Chef Wilfred Mtshali (who oversees the mentorship) and Chef Shadrack Sihlangu (Head Chef at Little Bush Camp).
Three more youngsters (including twin brothers) will complete their training next month and will hopefully also be snapped up into the culinary world.
Considerable mentoring has been provided in upskilling the students to prepare modern and relevant résumé’s and tips on how to conduct themselves during the process of job applications and interviews.
We delight in witnessing members of our team investing their time, energy and education mentoring youngsters who will be the future of South Africa and nurturing their skills that will see them take charge of their future. May Freedom and Freedom, and all the chefs who follow this path with us, continue to influence and inspire others to seize opportunities and work hard – a fool-proof recipe to success and one that inspires “paying it forward”.