Warwick’s Chef School has over the years become an institution in Hermanus and among their alumni are many well-known local chefs and restaurateurs who can be found at top destinations such as Gabriëlskloof, Spookfontein, Creation, CanD’s Kitchen and Burgundy.
“Our full-time course offers an international qualification and our graduates are working not only in Hermanus and Cape Town but all over the world. We are amazed about their wonderful culinary journeys and what they have achieved,” says Kevin Warwick, who founded the Chef School in 1991. “We are proud of all our students. This industry demands hard work and long hours, so true passion and dedication are vital to forging a successful career.”
Like most businesses, though, especially those in the hospitality industry, Kevin and his wife Sumien have had to face many challenges over the past few years, and even more so since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Early in 2019, the Warwicks decided to sell the Class Room Function Venue and to continue with hospitality training as their main focus. Unfortunately, due to the economic pressures that resulted from the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, the new owner was forced to permanently close the doors of this popular venue just a year later.
“It was truly sad to see a business that we built up over 10 years close its doors,” says Kevin. “We have many fond memories of hosting fantastic weddings, birthday celebrations, anniversaries and corporate functions over the years, as well as many regular events such as the annual Hermanus High Matric Dinner at the Class Room. For Hermanus to lose a prime venue that had the capacity to host 100 guests is devastating.”
Despite these setbacks, Kevin, after almost 30 years in the business, is still passionate about training young chefs for the professional kitchen. Apart from offering the full-time courses, the school also got involved with community learning projects and smaller, part-time courses.
“Due to the cost of ingredients, professional knives and other equipment, as well as the international examination fees, full-time culinary training can be costly,” says Kevin. “We wanted to also offer training opportunities to those who are not able to afford full-time chef training. This is why we approached the South African Chef Association to offer the National Youth Chef Training programme (NYCTP) as well as other learnership courses here in the Overstrand.”
The NYCTP diploma courses were rolled out during 2019 and 2020, with students placed at The Marine, The Wine Glass, Arabella Hotel, DeliCo and CandD’s Kitchen for industry practicals. Some of them have already secured permanent jobs at these establishments. Other courses included the Fast Food Services learnership, as well as the Food Safety learnership offered through the Tourism & Business Institute of Southern Africa.
“A total of 40 students from our area completed this programme in July this year and did their industry practical training at the Ocean Basket, Spar, Food Lover’s Market, Arabella Hotel, Gateway Spar, Gansbaai Spar and Standford Hills,” says Kevin. “Hats off to these students who had to train under very difficult circumstances during the lockdown period. Despite this challenge, the students performed well and will be receiving their CATHSSETA certification soon.”
Warwick’s chef school is also a training partner of the Overstrand College and facilitates their Chef Assistant Course. With social distancing and other safety protocols in place, this part-time skills programme entails 12 lessons offered once a week and focuses on the basic kitchen fundamentals.
The chef school does not only focus on professional training. Children and adult social cooking classes are also available. During the December holiday season, Warwick’s will once again host their junior chef cooking programme for youngsters aged 10 – 13 years. The popular social cooking classes for adults are hosted on Saturday evenings, with participants cooking a delicious meal under Kevin’s guidance and then enjoying dinner afterwards with a glass of wine. This is a great opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and enjoy a great meal. Book in advance, as classes are kept to a maximum of 8 guests per session.
Although the chef school offers a range of different courses and activities, Kevin’s main focus and love is still the full-time culinary diploma courses, which will resume in 2021. These are offered at their campus in the Village Centre, Sandbaai where a limited number of students are accepted for the annual January and July intakes, ensuring personal attention at all times.
- The full-time international diploma programme runs over a period of one year and includes an industry placement at some of Hermanus’s prestigious establishments. Students also enjoy the benefit of having professional industry chefs as guest lecturers and mentors. Graduates can consider many fields after completing their course at Warwick’s Chef School: working in restaurants/hotels, on cruise liners or private yachts, industrial catering, entrepreneurial opportunities, event catering, product development and test kitchens, speciality bakeries or delis, private home catering, food blogs, culinary lecturing, food styling etc.
- The part-time international certificate programme runs once a week in the afternoons over a period of 9 months. This course is perfect for those who are currently working and unable to commit to a full-time course, or those who want to enter the industry as a junior chef. The programme is also offered to those taking a gap year, as well as to Grade 10 – 12 learners as an extra-mural activity. When completing their matric, these learners will already have an international qualification, enabling them to enrol for a diploma course.
- Warwick’s also offers a short International Food Safety course – essential for those wanting to work as food handlers on yachts and cruise liners. This 2-day course has been endorsed by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, but it is perfect for everyone working with food to ensure safe working practices.
“At Warwick’s Chef School we’ll keep cooking!” says Kevin. “The hospitality industry had a very tough time during the national lockdown, but chefs and restaurateurs are innovative, creative and resilient and it was great to see how everyone worked together and created new dining concepts by thinking out of the box. Food and cooking is part of our everyday lives – and people will always want to eat and celebrate together.”
For a prospectus or more information, Warwick’s Chef School can be contacted on 083 978 3942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.