Ongoing staff training is an important career development pillar at City Lodge Hotel Group. The latest undertaking sees 9 kitchen staff successfully complete the SA Chefs Association’s Recognition for Prior Learning (RPL) programme, conceptualised by the Department of Tourism and funded through CATHSSETA (Culture, Art, Tourism, Hospitality, and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority):

They have all received the certified designation cook, which is awarded to non-qualified chefs who have a minimum of three years of cooking experience in a formally brigaded kitchen. Each of the team members has submitted a portfolio of evidence to benchmark their skills and competencies, including a detailed questionnaire. These are assessed by SA Chefs and a designation applied (either Cook, Chef de Partie, Sous Chef or Head Chef).

The National Department of Tourism held a graduation ceremony on 1 July 2022 and City Lodge Hotel Group honoured its graduates in a special event at City Lodge Hotel Waterfall City on 11 August 2022. The celebration was attended by Thanda Madlala, deputy director of professional development at the Department of Tourism and her colleague Jabulile Galane, professional development officer; Pinky Maruping, vice president of SA Chefs Association and her colleagues Elsu Gericke, head of education and development and Thandeka Feliti, operations manager; Lindiwe Sangweni-Siddo, chief operating officer at City Lodge Hotel Group and group general manager food and beverage and top chef, Trevor Boyd. They were joined by fellow graduates from Irene Country Lodge and The Underground Bakery, who shared the special day. Cheering on the graduates were various general managers from City Lodge Hotel Group, highly experienced chef Stuart McClarty, owner of The Underground Bakery, and members of the hospitality industry.

Elsu explains, “SA Chefs offers the chefs of this country a system whereby their hard work, skills and successes can be celebrated and recognised through a standardised system. As a South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) recognised professional body, the association is able to award designations as registered with SAQA to our professional members. All designations are underpinned by a recognised qualification. SA Chefs has also developed the Designation through the RPL programme, which enables non-qualified chefs to obtain their designations. This programme does not replace a formal qualification, but rather recognises the experience and expertise of chefs who have not had the privilege of formal education. It ensures that chefs can enjoy professional recognition within the industry, which is essential to furthering their careers.”

Lindiwe says, “We offered the opportunity of designation through RPL to our kitchen teams and are delighted that these 9 staff members have stepped up to put their skills and knowledge to the test, and been awarded certification and professionally recognised designations as cooks. This is an exciting milestone in their culinary careers and we applaud their commitment and dedication. As we grow our food and beverage offering as a group, we welcome the opportunity for our kitchen brigades to grow in confidence, creativity and expertise, guided by our general manager F&B Trevor Boyd. This is also part of our group-wide continuous professional development that we encourage all of our staff members to undertake. This is just the beginning – we look forward to seeing our graduating cooks continue to learn, create and teach others.”

Thanda Madlala, deputy director of professional development at the Department of Tourism, applauds the graduates, saying, “This is a happy moment! Recognition for prior learning is not a quick shortcut; it is about the assessment of skills and experience and proving that one is worthy of these qualifications and recognition. The National Department of Tourism is doing this as part of transformation and this is money well spent by the Department. Thank you to City Lodge Hotel Group for participating and supporting our development programmes.”