Today was Lucien Green’s last day in the kitchen at the Singita School of Cooking. He managed to squeeze in one more demo before he left: confit duck gizzards, duck hearts, and orange segments all drizzled with a Dijon mustard dressing. I was worried I might not sample the duck delicacy as there was a sea of students in front of me destroying the delicious salad by the fork-full. As a thank-you to Lucien he was given a cooking school jacket with his name embroidered on it, a Singita book and an invitation for him and his wife to return to Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. His remark? “I’ll certainly return but not in summer. I hear there are a lot of snakes around at that time!”
This has been a remarkable week. The students have gained mountains of knowledge and also a new friend. Everyone is looking forward to the return of Lucien Green.
The End…for now.
Four points separated the teams in the end, but let’s start at the beginning. Lucien Green, Senior Training and Development Chef from Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice Programme, started the day by presenting his demo for plating carpaccio.
Then the students split into their teams to begin their own creations and Amos started the clock-watch – a 25 minute challenge! All teams finished in time so the first challenge was met. Some great dishes were created by all and the sirloin was delectable and tender.
After the judging it was time to announce the winner. In 4th place with 39 points was team D. In joint 2nd and 3rd place with 40.5 points were teams B and C and in first place with a whopping 43 points was team A. The grand prize? Each member of the winning team proudly accepted a chef’s jacket from Fifteen, together with a Fifteen-branded apron. The smiles couldn’t have been any bigger.
(Written by Archie Maclean, Head Chef at Singita Lebombo Lodge.)
Here’s the winning team A and their scrumptious creation.
The excitement at Singita Kruger National Park has been contagious this week. What’s been causing the stir? Lucien Green.
Visiting from Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen” Apprentice Programme in London, Lucien Green (Senior Training and Development Chef) has hailed an energy at the Singita School of Cooking like never before. Each day has been jam-packed with activities, revving up from one day to the next.
Day One – the Singita team whisked Lucien out into the bush to look for lions.
Day Two – stepping into the kitchen at the Singita School of Cooking for the first time, Lucien observed students elbow-deep in dough and perfecting their focaccia-making skills.
Day Three – Lucien took some time out to review curriculum. He gave the cooking school a thumbs-up!
Day Four – this was a special day – it was marked as the official opening of the Singita School of Cooking. Mark Witney, Singita’s Chief Operating Officer was also present for the honours.
Day Five – then it was back to the kitchen. Lucien conducted a day of teaching, introduced the students to carpaccio for the first time, and iniated a competition to see who could produce some winning results. For the competition the students were split into teams and over two days they’ll compete for the top prize. It is going to be a gruelling, fast-paced stretch. Stay tuned!
First day at Singita School of Cooking, Lucien Green, Senior Training and Development Chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice Programme in London arrived this morning to find the students all huddled around a bench paying attention to Amos, the chef in charge, giving instruction on stuffed focaccia. Amos was enthusiastically demonstrating how to prepare the fillings, which looked world-class: tomato, caramelized onion, mushrooms, all roasted with rosemary and garlic. He placed the filling in the middle of the bread then folded the bread around. Then the challenge was presented: Group A against Group B – whose baked delicacy will win? While the bread baked it gave Chef Lucien time to talk to some of the students individually as they continued with their prep duties. Forty minutes later with the smell of freshly cooked bread, the focaccia was done. In true chef style everyone approached, not giving time for the bread to cool and everyone waiting for a bite. Lucien was asked by Amos to do the honor of judging. All of the breads were mouthwatering but there could only be one winner and group A took the prize. Group B was a close second and poor Amos came third. It takes a good teacher to lose to his students!
In the early 90s, Jamie Oliver, one of the world’s best loved chefs, was struck by the idea of cooking as a potential career path for young unemployed people – specifically those who had fallen out of mainstream education and were in need of a fresh new start in life. And from there, the concept of Fifteen began to take shape. His idea was simple: to establish a reputable London-based restaurant that offered young, unemployed people the experience of learning to work in the restaurant business. In late 2002, he opened Fifteen London and recruited 15 young apprentices to train alongside a team of 25 professional chefs and mentors. Nine years on, Fifteen continues to have the Apprentice Programme at the heart of its busy restaurant operations. (Information from www.jamieoliver.com)
The story of the beginning of Fifteen resonates so deeply with us at Singita because of the reasons why the Singita School of Cooking was created. The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Lebombo and Sweni Lodges. It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth. Eight to 10 students are selected and they attend an 18-month training programme. Having completed their training, some are employed as Comis Chefs in a Singita kitchen or in other Kruger National Park lodge kitchens. The first of these programmes was run in 2007, ensuring that a core of young people from the local area has already been equipped with life-long skills and a positive future.
Now the culmination of 2 and a half years’ work, building a connection with Fifteen, we are privileged to welcome Lucien Green, the Senior Training and Development Chef for Fifteen’s Apprentice Programme to the Singita School of Cooking this week. He will be reviewing the training curriculum, chef skills’ development, and also will be conducting Master classes for the Singita Kruger chefs and students at the cooking school.
Spirits are high at the Singita School of Cooking as the students prepare for their introduction to Lucien Green tomorrow. We hope you’ll follow our photo journal this week as we watch the next chapter of the Singita School of Cooking story enfold.