The Lucky Star Caterers Academy incubator programme last month saw the successful up-skilling of 13 entrepreneurs in the catering field. The Professional Catering Academy programme was designed by the South African Chefs Association and its then president Stephen Billingham, with input from both caterers and City & Guilds.

“Growing skills and development in South Africa is very important to the work that we do at SA Chefs. We are proud and incredibly grateful to work with companies like Lucky Star to grow and fine-tune the operations of more entrepreneurs, which is critical to bridging the unemployment gap in this country,” says Elsu Gericke, Head of Professional Body and Skills Development for SA Chefs. “It is our duty as a South African association in the Hospitality industry to reach out and assist where possible in equipping previously disadvantaged individuals with the relevant skills to ensure that their catering companies reach their full potential.”

Targeting small to medium black-owned catering companies that are generating revenue by providing a catering and function service in townships and surrounds, the programme forms part of SA Chefs and Lucky Star’s commitment to provide previously disadvantaged individuals with the skills and capacity to certify a new breed of professionally trained caterers.

The Lucky Star Caterers Academy aims for caterers to maximise opportunities, create employment, address health and safety issues in production and contribute to South Africa’s economy, furthermore raising both the standard of business ethics and the quality of hospitality and catering sectors.

One recent graduate from the Lucky Star Caterers Academy is Nothemba Nkosi who is involved with her family business, Tshipi Noto Funeral Home. “Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an emotional time for a family and I wanted to use my skills to incorporate catering to our service offering. I am so grateful to the programme for all the invaluable lessons that I learnt, and I feel empowered from a business and practical point of view. I plan to use what I have learnt to help other caterers and people in my community that don’t know how to cook,” she explains.