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Centre for Culinary Excellence

Developed in response to South Africa’s skills shortage within the hospitality industry, as highlighted ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the South African Chefs’ Association (SACA), in partnership with the University of Johannesburg’s School of Tourism and Hospitality, has launched the Centre for Culinary Excellence (CCE). With Southern Sun as its patron, the CCE encompasses the Vulcan Skills Kitchen, as well as a Culinary Theatre. Dr. Bill Gallagher has been the major driving force behind the realisation of the initiative, which the South African hospitality industry firmly supports. Committed partners include Southern Sun, Rich’s, Vulcan, Chipkins, Crown National, Caterplus, Tiger Brands, Fedics and Continental China.

The CCE consists primarily of a state-of-the-art kitchen with equipment sponsored by Vulcan, as well as a culinary demonstration theatre. The aim of the centre is not to replace traditional culinary schools, but rather to offer short courses of either one; five or 10 days in duration. 

These courses act as an intensive injection of basic craft skills designed for junior cooks, commis chefs, kitchen attendants, fast food assistants, as well as anyone connected to the food industry who would like to improve their skills. As a non-profit organisation, the SACA’s mandate is to teach, develop and empower through training and skills sharing. As such, all courses are inexpensive. 

The centre is already equipped with a large reference library, stocked with cookbooks, SACA archive material and computers, to be used for web-based culinary research. The Vulcan Skills Kitchen is a natural extension of the CCE, equipping the industry with a venue that will be used predominantly for skills development. The kitchen is fitted out with every piece of equipment found in working kitchens within the industry; with dedicated pastry, butchery and buffet sections. Students each have a station where they can practise the skills taught to them. Television screens throughout the kitchen replay demonstrated techniques, ensuring that any missed step can be viewed again.

Another section of the centre comprises of a lecture and Culinary Theatre, where a

state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen, with equipment from Vulcan which will be upgraded as new models come in; allow for both theoretical and practical lectures. This part of the kitchen is separated from the second part by one-way glass, allowing those in the Culinary Theatre to view the hub of activity in the main Vulcan Skills Kitchen.

The SACA is immensely proud to have so many key players within the South African hospitality industry behind it in creating this world-class centre. The CCE will allow the hospitality industry to develop and nurture previously disadvantaged talent in our country, as well as equip students, both young and old, to reach their full potential.