University of Pretoria’s Consumer Science students are extremely lucky! The food laboratories have had a complete refurbishment and now boast better equipment and capacity for more students. The food lab was launched with a fantastic demonstration from Chef Chantel Dartnall, who then went on to prepare a lunch together with the students for the invited guests. The kitchens previously had 26 cooking stations in total, but now have 60 and gas stoves have been fitted in keeping with current commercial trends.

The new labs also offer induction cooking and have blast freezing as well as a range of good science equipment for research and training. The beautifully-designed labs are trendy, ergonomic and user friendly, with industrial equipment and surfaces.

“Culinary research is a growing area which can be expanded with new facilities and modern up-to-date equipment. This puts UP at the forefront of culinary art and science training and enables future graduates to contribute to consumer food product and services development,” says Dr Gerrie du Rand, head of the Food and Nutrition section at the department.

The launch of the food laboratories also saw the launch of the new four year BSc Culinary Science degree, which is the only degree of its kind in Southern Africa. The students need to have maths and science to enter the degree, and the course will teach students the science behind a technique. For example, when aerating a soup with a whipping siphon, students will experiment with soups made from different vegetables and ingredients with different fat contents to find out which creates the perfect consistency and why. It is hoped that these graduates will add value to establishments through their deep knowledge of food and techniques, thinking further than the food on the table, and leave the University with creativity and curiosity.