Not content with merely helping KwaMagxaki High School refurbish their consumer studies classroom, Boardwalk hotel and casino expanded on the social upliftment initiative with a R700 000 bursary project to help pupils graduate with cheffing industry qualifications.
Five 2021 matriculants graduated last month with National Certificates in Professional Cookery Programme from the International Hotel School, thanks to a bursary from the Sun International hotel in Gqeberha. The students also received a monthly stipend to enable them to concentrate fully on their studies.
Three of the students – Yonela Chophela, Ntombizanele Mthunzini and Bulelwa Nogqala – will start work as permanent employees at Boardwalk, while Yolanda Gelebha and Yamkela Vena will complete an internship in Mauritius, off the back of their newly-minted international qualification.
Boardwalk is paying the costs of the flights and Visas for Gelebha and Vena, both 18, who will be winging their way to Sugar Beach Resort in June for a six-month internship in the hotel’s kitchen department. Upon their return, they will work as commi chefs at Boardwalk.
“I am very excited about this new experience – and a little anxious about my first time on a plane,” Vena said. “I want to learn about the different types of cuisine and how to cook for different cultures. I have lived in South Africa all my life, so I am looking forward to experiencing something new.” Vena said she had grown to love cooking during the course, and was now often found behind the stove in her family’s kitchen. “I dream of opening my own restaurant and being involved in the kitchen. I am very thankful to Boardwalk – they have given me a great opportunity. I am who I am today because of Boardwalk,” she said.
Gelebha, who had initially wanted to become a teacher, said her interest in cooking developed during the course. “I am looking forward to learning more about this career in Mauritius. I am very excited to be travelling internationally,” said the born-and-bred Soweto-on-Sea student.
At a cost of R110 000 per student, the year-long International Hotel School course provided students with the relevant theory, skills and practical work experience to help start their careers as chefs. The qualification was developed for professionals in the food preparation industry and brings together elements of food and drinks preparation as well as supervision across all sectors, from small restaurants, lodges and large-scale hotels. The students learnt to prepare and cook basic meat, poultry, fish and game as well as soups and sauces, the service of cold preparation dishes, kitchen hygiene and budgeting and cost control.
“It is extremely heartwarming to hear these youngsters’ stories, and realise their resilience. To say that we are proud of them all is an understatement,” said Nopinkie Jacobs, HR Manager at Boardwalk hotel and casino.
“Boardwalk is an important corporate citizen in Nelson Mandela Bay and we are pleased to play a role in empowering youngsters to become gainfully employed in the hospitality industry,” said Boardwalk hotel and casino General Manager, Tati Tsunke.