IBC College recently came out victors in the inaugural culinary schools competition aimed at uplifting the local hospitality industry as well as choosing a team to represent the country at international competitions in 2017.
The Ministry of Education and Training (MET) partnered with Lesotho Chefs Association (LCA) to host the event at Dona@Balos Restaurant at Thetsane Office Park in Maseru on Friday.
Four hospitality schools, namely Lerotholi Polytechnic, IBC College, St Mary’s School of Home Economics as well as Dona@Balos Chef and Hospitality School took part in a competition where they prepared a three course meal namely the starter, main course and dessert.
The panel of judges consisted of Chef Fanie Sebopo from the South African Chefs Association, local Chef Puseletso Rantsatsi who currently works as a hospitality lecturer at Limkokwing University and Margret Moroka – an economics officer at the MET.
IBC College came first, Dona@Balos second place, Lerotholi Polytechnic third while St Mary’s brought up the rear.
The students each received a medal and certificate.
Chef Fanie presented St Mary’s with a set of chefs’ knives which he said it was to motivate them.
The competition was followed by a gala dinner which was graced by the deputy Minister of Education Thabang Kholumo, the Tourism Ministry’s Principal Secretary Lefeu Ramone and officials from both ministries as well as members of LCA.
LCA president Donald Moletsane said in addition to improving local culinary standards, the competition was also held to select a team to represent Lesotho in international competitions next year.
“We have had Dona@Balos students representing Lesotho but the national team should comprise of students from different institutions Chef Moletsane said.
“This is the first effort towards achieving that goal and we will work with the lecturers from these schools to select the best team. We also hope Chef Fanie will help us develop a strong team.
“This initiative has also united hospitality lecturers, which means the beginning of working relations to produce the best chefs, which in turn, will promote hospitality through schools,” he said.
For his part, Honourable Kholumo said that his ministry would give the necessary support to culinary arts to boost the economy.
“Most developed countries rely on human skills to boost the economy and we are very pleased to see these schools working together to eradicate poverty through job creation.
“My ministry will ensure that every talent is developed to build a team of entrepreneurs and not just job seekers armed with certificates,” he said.
The guest of honour, Chef Fanie whose career spans more than 20 years in the South African culinary arts industry, encouraged students to keep improving their skills.
“Every time in the kitchen is a test to any chef and if you are afraid of failure you will never be a great chef. You will fail a million times but as long as you keep trying there is hope.
“Do not get into the profession for money for it takes a lot of time to build a resume that speaks volumes,” he said, adding, “A diploma or degree certificate is just a piece of paper which will open doors for you, after that it is up to you to shine and make a name for yourself”.
“Throughout the 20 years of my career I have not spent Christmas or New Year’s Eve with my family so remember that this profession entails extensive working hours,” he said.
He also urged the students to research about traditional Sesotho dishes and learn to prepare them in the modern way as that could be their secret weapon in any competition.