Joburg teacher wins bursary to train as a chef

Joburg teacher wins bursary to train as a chef

To mark its 20th anniversary, Capsicum Culinary Studio, South Africa’s largest culinary school, launched its Chef Talent Scout competition earlier this year, with more than R500,000 in bursaries to be won.

The nationwide contest asked entrants to submit a recipe and a two-minute video of a dish they had created and send it to their Capsicum campus of choice — there are six countrywide. Entries were whittled down by a panel of judges to a shortlist of aspiring young cooks who competed against each other and a winner from each campus was chosen.

The prize? A life-changing bursary for each of the six winners to study, for one year, either the Professional Chef or the Professional Patisserie Programme, at the school campus of their choosing.

Craighall Park, Johannesburg resident Anna Rethabile Coplan, 32, a teacher, will take up her prize next year to study at the school’s Rosebank campus.

Why did you enter the Talent Scout competition?

I’ve always had a passion for cooking and a deep interest in culinary arts, and after spending several years in education, I was brought closer to the realisation that my true calling lies in the world of food and culinary creativity. The idea of pursuing a career in culinary excites me, as it allows me to combine my love for cooking with my desire to constantly learn and grow in culinary arts.

Tell us about your winning dish.

The recipe I chose was a coconut chicken curry served with flatbread and pineapple salsa. It allowed me to present a dish that combined bold flavours, unique textures and a touch of tropical inspiration, which was a creative fusion of vibrant flavours and global influences. The main inspiration for this dish stemmed from my love for Thai cuisine and the desire to showcase the versatility of coconut in savoury dishes, which is often underrated. The rich and creamy coconut cream forms the heart of the dish, with tender chicken cooked in aromatic spices, creating a harmonious blend of flavours. The pineapple salsa added a refreshing and tangy element, helping to balance the indulgent richness of the coconut curry with its sweet and zesty notes. Finally, the homemade flatbread served as the perfect complement to scoop up the curry and salsa, providing a satisfying and comforting base to complete the meal.

What did it feel like when you learnt you’d won?

It was an indescribable feeling of joy, accomplishment and validation. It was a moment of elation, knowing that my passion, hard work and dedication had paid off. The recognition and confirmation from industry professionals gave me a sense of confidence in my abilities and reaffirmed my decision to pursue a career in culinary arts.

What do you want to do after graduation?

I would like to work as a head chef in a renowned restaurant or hotel, with the goal of establishing myself as a skilled and respected culinary professional, known for my creativity, attention to detail and ability to create memorable experiences.

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Embarking on a lifelong dream of owning a boutique hotel with a Michelin-rated restaurant. This is something my best friend and I have spoken of since we were teens.

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