July 2023

The next level – Singita Community Culinary School partners with Prue Leith

in Community

The next level – Singita Community Culinary School partners with Prue Leith

Empowering and upskilling members of the communities that live near our lodges and camps is a crucial part of fostering harmony between people and nature, and ensuring each thrive and endure well into the future.

The Singita Community Culinary School (SCCS) is one of our greatest community success stories – and demonstrates how, when individuals are supported and encouraged to pursue a sense of purpose, entire communities benefit. In the 16 years since it opened, it’s produced 103 graduates, 92% of whom have gone on to create memorable food experiences for guests in Singita’s own kitchens as professional chefs, and further afield into the hospitality industry.

The Singita Community Culinary School (SCCS) was opened in 2007 and has guided over 100 students through to graduation

Aligned in values & purpose

We continually seek to improve and evolve across all aspects of our company, and in 2022, the SCCS embarked on a journey to identify the right organisation to collaborate with – the goal being to build a more robust qualification.

“I started research to find a suitable institute to collaborate with, in order to provide a better ‘all round’ qualification for our learners (as the qualification at the time was not registered on an international framework), which would allow them to work outside of their countries of origin,” explains Thys Taljaard, Singita’s Regional SCCS Head and mentor to the annual cohort of culinary talent. 

From Thys’ first meeting with Chef Adele Stiehler-van der Westhuizen, Managing Director of the Prue Leith Culinary Institute (PLCI), he knew this partnership would be a perfect fit. "We share the same belief in community upliftment and the development of under-resourced communities. The passion that PLCI has for African cuisine and the development of it also sold me on this partnership," he says.  

The partnership with the Prue Leith Culinary Institute was a perfect fit in terms of its shared passion for African cuisine and belief in community upliftment

Strides towards even greater culinary renown

The impact of Prue Leith’s wide-reaching and stellar reputation and her team’s extensive expertise can’t be overstated. The ripple effects of not only the prestige it lends to the programme, but the support it gives in terms of resources and experience is a hugely positive step forward for the SCCS and its students.

“We could not have asked for more from this partnership. The systems that PLCI has in place – for both students and chef skills developers – is more than we ever expected and we are very pleased and excited about this new phase for the SCCS,” says Thys. Hosting Dame Prue earlier this year at Singita Kruger National Park he felt was a game changer too. “It was special for the students to meet such an icon in the industry and also for the Dame to witness how serious we are about what we do,” he says.

Dame Prue Leith's visit to meet the students of the SCCS at Singita Kruger National Park was a mutually inspiring experience

Onward & upward

Going forward, the qualification will be presented from PLCI for all three Singita SCCS campuses. “The academic support and quality assurance from PLCI is incredible – it’s wonderful to work as part of such a well-oiled machine,” says Thys.

With the partnership with PLCI elevating the already high standard of the work that the SCCS does to an even greater height, this will in turn provide a better qualification and post-graduation support for students. It also ensures an ever more dynamic and exciting culinary experience for culinary-minded guests to the lodges in Singita Kruger National Park. “We have a lot in store for the future with PLCI and the support that Chef Adele gives,” says Thys.

With the already superb programme offered by the SCCS elevated further by the team at the PLCI, the students benefit from greater support both during and after their studies

Support tomorrow’s rising culinary talent

Singita Lowveld Trust, our conservation partner in South Africa sponsors six students a year. This programme wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of guests and donors whose support funds additional scholarships through the SCCS Expansion Fund. The goal is to grow the number of students who graduate from the programme annually. If you’d like to assist a student with their tuition, you can find more information here >

By Julia Freemantle

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