We chatted to the Reserve Bank chef about his mentors, training philosophy and what a day as a chef in the Reserve Bank involves.
In my role as Senior Manager for Hospitality Services at the Reserve Bank, I’m responsible for the conference centre, events, food and beverages as well as all the hospitality services outlets.
My late mother was a cook and she inspired me with her excellent culinary skills, presentation and the way she used to master the flavour pairings in different dishes.
Some of my career highlights include being appointed as Research and Development Chef for Africa Sub-Sahara at LSG Sky Chefs, and leading up the Sun City Hotel and Casino culinary brigade with seven food and beverage outlets producing up to 45 000 meals per day during the annual Nedbank Million Dollar Golf Tournament.
I’ve also achieved nine culinary competition medals, amongst them winning the Mystery Basket Chefs Challenge, Turkey Time Chefs Challenge, Compass SA Super Chef Challenge, and silver medals in Momentum Lifestyle Achievement Awards and the McCain Tribute to Good Taste competition.
I consider Master Chef Josef Eder (Hyatt Hotels) to be one of my mentors. He taught me how to master the art – from menu planning to food and wine pairing. Eugene Van Wyk (former Executive Chef at CCJ Auckland Park and Woodmead) was probably the best chef mentor on food costings, the kitchen administration and financials.
A day in the kitchens of the Reserve Bank starts with a morning departmental briefing where, amongst other key operational focal points, we plan our daily activity and analyse the previous day’s operational reports. From there the rest of the day is taken up by the technical and strategic functions of the day-to-day’s Hospitality Services operation.
We provide 1600 meals per day from four outlets. This includes a la Carte for Executive Dining, Set Menus, Cocktails, Buffet and Business Lunches at the Conference Centre, Corporate Dining at Rest-O-Rand Dining Room (including breakfast, all day dining, grab ‘n go, sushi bar and coffee bar).
When it comes to training, I first conduct a skills audit to identify the skills gap, then analyse the required skills based on the gaps identified, identify the learning outcomes as well as the deliverance of the training and then set up a training programme with progress report (to ensure that we don’t divert or over concentrate on certain skills but cover all required outcomes) and implement the training programmes.
All training programmes in every kitchen that I’ve led are linked to an employee learning program, career path, skills development plan and mostly according to talent management plan of the department as a whole.
We’ve found that the drought has definitely affected our food prices – the prices tripled on certain items. As a team, together with the Bank’s Executive Chef (Elias Letswele), Head Chefs (Chef Kgabi Mothiba and Chef Mayenziwe Rozani) and Food and Beverages Managers (Mrs Marieta Lubbe and Mrs Pam Ngobeni) re-engineered the menus across the outlets with focus on seasonal and available local products.