South African Adventure for Culinary Arts Students

0 min read

26 June 2024

Visiting the Cape of Good Hope during Turing Scheme fully-funded work and study visit to South Africa

SERC students Josie Chapman, Matthew McGivern and David Rea with (front) Chefs from the De Zalze Golf Resort Turing Scheme Logo

Twelve (12) students from SERC got their summer off to an early start when they jetted to South Africa on a 17-day work and study placement fully funded by the Turing Scheme.

The culinary arts students, from the Level 3 Diploma in Professional Chef course and Foundation Degree Culinary Arts, along with hospitality students from the Level 2 Hospitality Traineeship and Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality, were hosted by Boland College in picturesque Stellenbosch, the world-famous wine producing region.

The students from Bangor Campus were Aimee Roleston (Newtownards), Lisa Hayes (Donaghadee), Erin Horner (Comber), Eimear McCarthy (Portaferry), Ali McKay-Geary (Bangor), Lucie Ramm (Donaghadee), David Rea (Bangor), Eve Saunders (Bangor) and Nicole Stewart (Ballinderry); and from Lisburn Campus, Josie Chapman (Tandragee), Rachel Carson (Glenavy) and Matthew McGivern (Lisburn) were joined by students from Travel and Tourism programmes at SERC.

Paul Mercer, Deputy Head of School Hospitality at SERC, one of the team who accompanied the students on the trip said, “The trip has been an amazing experience for our students. Their culinary education has included a masterclass with from Craig Cormack, renowned South African Restaurateur and Salt Chef (cooking with different favoured salts from around the world), tutored wine tastings with the Vredenheim Estate sommelier, tea tasting with Dilmah tea, and seminars at the state-of-the-art Cape Town International Convention Centre.”

Whilst the students worked alongside Boland College students on joint academic projects, the accompanying SERC teaching team presented lectures on their specialisms to all the students. Paul concluded, “During their free time, the students enjoyed numerous once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as visiting the top of Table Mountain by cable car, enjoying a traditional dinner and entertainment in a township, a safari at Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa where they got to see lions, rhinos, and elephants, and Cape Point Nature Reserve to see critically endangered Cape Penguins. The scenery and views were breath-taking and all experienced in beautiful 32°C weather.”

David Rea (31, Bangor) a Level 3 Professional Chef student employed by Oakmont Lodge Care home and Cultra Inn said, “It really was the visit of a lifetime, from the moment we were so warmly welcomed at the airport by the Boland College team and our guide, Radheeka Reyatt from Earth Stompers, we realised we were set for an amazing experience. The itinerary was so well planned to give us a real flavour of the people and culture of South Africa.”

He added, “One of the many highlights for me was our visit to one of the townships. These people have so little, but we were welcomed into their community and treated to a spit braai (barbecue) with the most amazing food, including Chakalaka, a kind of vegetable stew, which was delicious.    The children wore traditional dress and sang and danced. There were poetry readings and everyone - led by our Lecturer Chef Brian Magill - joined in the dancing. It was emotive and joyous.”

He continued, “It was great to meet fellow SERC students from the professional chef, hospitality, and tourism courses, from different campuses and for us all to meet the students from Boland College. They really were so welcoming and genuinely wanted to spend time with us to find out what it was like in Northern Ireland.”

David concluded, “The scenery in South Africa was amazing. The whole experience of being immersed in a different culture has certainly widened my horizons. I think it should be mandatory for everyone at school or college to have a trip abroad. And although I have been abroad many times, I wouldn’t have had this amazing experience had I not been at SERC.”

For many of the students, the trip has been a life changing experience, giving them a unique opportunity to gain vital international experience and a better understanding of other global cultures and work practices. Besides the increased sense of initiative, entrepreneurship, self-empowerment, and self-esteem that comes with living and working abroad, the students have gained and improved skills such teamwork, leadership, communication, planning and organisation, problem solving, creative thinking, decision making and commercial awareness. The Turing Scheme provides funding for students to undertake a study or work placement across the world, contributing to the UK Government’s commitment to a Global Britain, by helping organisations such as SERC to enhance existing international links and forge new relationships. The delivery partner for the Turing Scheme is Capita working on behalf of the Department for Education.

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