Tag Archives: Singita School of Cooking

Giving Thanks

November 28, 2013 - Cuisine,General,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge

Earlier this year we brought you the story of Joyful Nghala, a trainee chef at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC) at Singita Kruger National Park. We are delighted to report that Joyful recently graduated from SSC along with six other students after successfully completing a challenging 18-month stint in the school’s kitchens. She is now employed at Singita Lebombo Lodge and is poised to become an extremely valuable member of our team.

People like Joyful make us all the more grateful for the special communities of which Singita is a part, and today we give thanks for all of our staff members, guests and special friends that work with us to make a tangible difference in the lives of those living and working in and around our lodges. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving, from our family to yours this holiday season.

Learn more about Joyful’s story in this short video celebrating her graduation last month:

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The Singita School of Cooking

February 20, 2013 - Community Development,Cuisine,Experience,Kruger National Park,Lodges and Camps

Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking Joyful and her classmates at the Singita School of Cooking

Life at Singita is a constant exercise in gratitude for the environment and the people that make the lodges so incredibly unique. Singita is the custodian of over half a million acres of natural bush in Africa and works actively to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.  We partner with the people who live on the outskirts of the reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefit of preserving the land for future generations.  Singita and the people from local communities are working symbiotically to provide a better experience for the eco-traveler, whilst ensuring a better future for the land, the wildlife and communities within each region.

 

This story is the first in a series which will offer some insight into the genuine upliftment, improvements, restoration, heart-warming successes and joy brought about by caring and the daily miracles that keep unfolding to transform lives, largely thanks to the people who visit our lodges and are committed to making a difference.

Joyful Nghala, like all intelligent and aspirant young girls, matriculated from high school with dreams of a golden future. The realities of living in a part of South Africa with rampant unemployment soon hit home however, and she was forced to find work that didn’t promise much prospect. Despite her having to work in less than inspiring jobs, Joyful never lost the wonderful spirit for which she is so appropriately named.

A chance stroll to the local post office gave Joyful the lucky break she had been longing for. It was there that she spotted the advertisement encouraging interested parties to apply for places at the Singita School of Cooking (SSC). Joyful duly applied and successfully navigated two tough interviews and a cook-off to receive an invitation to attend the school, where she began classes in May last year.

Joyful at work in the SSC kitchen

There has been no looking back for Joyful since she was given the opportunity to learn all the relevant cooking skills under the expert tutelage of the Singita School of Cooking staff. All areas of professional cooking are explored in the school and students learn by doing. The aspirant chefs prepare food for the staff at Singita in a dedicated kitchen and are given opportunities to learn from the highly trained and skilled chefs who produce the Relais & Châteaux-standard food on a daily basis.

Joyful at work in the Singita kitchen

Joyful continues her education at the SSC where she receives many compliments both from her enthusiastic teachers and those with whom she works in the school kitchen. She is reported to have a healthy competitive attitude and a particular flair for culinary language, with her newly-acquired French vocabulary featuring regularly in her menus. She is already an asset to the Singita family and is on track to become a great chef, probably working in our very own kitchens one day. The Singita School of Cooking would not exist were it not for the generous support of our guests, some of whom have given abundantly to ensure that the futures of Joyful, and many others like her, are indeed golden.

Haute cuisine at Singita Kruger National Park

The Singita School of Cooking is located on site at the staff village that serves Singita Kruger National Park, the home of Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge.  It was established with the aim of encouraging the development of culinary skills amongst local youth from neighbouring communities.  Each year, 8 to 10 students are selected – based upon clear criteria including showing a real interest in cooking – to participate in an 18 month long training programme. You can also find out more about the Singita School of Cooking here.

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The Last Day

July 04, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

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.

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Competition Day 2

July 03, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

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.

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Turning up the Heat

July 02, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Events,Kruger National Park

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!

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Stuffing Focaccia

June 27, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

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!

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Singita teams up with Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen”

June 26, 2012 - Community Development,Kruger National Park

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.

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Graduation Day at Singita School of Cooking

April 18, 2012 - Community Development,Events

It was a proud day last week when students graduated from the Singita School of Cooking 18 month training programme in the Kruger National Park.  Well qualified to apply for a Commis Chef position in a professional kitchen at a Singita lodge, or any other safari lodge or hotel, six enthusiastic students now head out to take kitchens in the area by storm.

Chef Skills Developer at the Singita School of Cooking, Oriel Mbowane, himself previously a Sous Chef at Singita Sweni, was actively involved in the Graduation activities and is pleased with the student successes achieved at the school.

What distinguishes this school from similar training institutions, is the opportunity it offers for trainee chefs to practise their craft in the kitchens of Singita’s award-winning lodges. Students during the programme were supported by professional chefs employed at Singita who voluntarily shared their culinary and service expertise with the young talent.

Caroline Burke, General Manager Singita Kruger National Park says: ‘In remote, rural areas equipping even one person with a good job and sound prospects, has a burgeoning effect on members of their immediate family, as well as the broader community. Besides providing a much-needed income, these young people also provide inspiration, energy and leadership to their peers in under-developed areas’.

The school is a living example of Singita’s inspiring approach to ‘giving back’ at each of its 10 different lodges in four destinations in Africa, and of its modern conservation model that recognizes the need for a finely tuned relationship between wildlife, tourism and local communities.

We’re looking forward to the next intake of students – the fifth intake at the school – to commence their training as budding chefs this month.  Follow this space.

Further information on how you can become involved in this exciting community development programme can also be obtained from Pam Richardson, the Singita’s Group HR and Community Development Manager:  Pam.r@singita.com.

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Graduation Almost Here!

February 16, 2012 - Community Development,Cuisine,Events,Kruger National Park

The long-awaited graduation day at the Singita School of Cooking is now just around the corner.  After an arduous 18-month-long-programme, 6 students are currently completing assignments and going through the assessment process in order to qualify.  Excitement for graduation at the end of March, is mounting.

The team at Singita Kruger National Park is already starting to prepare for the next programme – in the next 2 weeks Oriel Mbowane (Singita Kruger National Park Chef Skills Developer) will be finalising details with the educational assessors.  April is the planned start date for the new intake and we are delighted that this will be the 5th intake of students at the cooking school since its inception in 2007.

Scroll through the photos and some of the memories from the year – well done to students, Oriel Mbowane, and visiting chefs.  It has been a great year.

For more information about the programme at the Singita School of Cooking, take a look at Singita’s website or feel free to contact us for a brochure or further details – SLReceptionmanager@singita.com (General Manager at Singita Kruger National Park).

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Bush Cooking with a Difference

March 30, 2011 - Community Development,Cuisine,Kruger National Park

If you have been following the updates on the Singita School of Cooking, located at our Staff Village in Singita Kruger National Park, then you will definitely enjoy watching our newest video clip.  The clip details the background of the school; some of the success stories; and dreams of what we hope will be coming next.  Listen to Oriel Mbowane, previous Sous Chef from Singita Sweni and now Skills Chef Trainer at the School of Cooking, talk about his own inspiring history and dreams for his students in the future.

For more information about Singita School of Cooking, take a look at our website and furthermore a previous blog article about this life-changing community project that has touched our hearts.

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