Helenvale youngsters ready to cook up a storm

Group of 20 complete chef course at Stenden University campus in Port Alfred

Petronella Karelse,19, and Renecia Adams, 23, show off their new cooking skills
TASTE DELIGHT: Petronella Karelse,19, and Renecia Adams, 23, show off their new cooking skills
Image: WERNER HILLS

Renecia Adams of Anita Drive in Barcelona is optimistic about what the future holds after completing a two-month training course as a chef at Stenden University’s campus in Port Alfred.

The 23-year-old is one of 20 young people from Helenvale who are ready to take their next steps in the hospitality industry after the training, which started in August and culminated last week with a certification ceremony.

Lerato Muzah, project manager at the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MDBA), said the training of youngsters was part of the component of “improved perspectives for youth of the  Safety and Peace through Urban Upgrading Programme (SPUU) for Helenvale.

The programme is co-financed by Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. 

Muzah said the MBDA partnered with Leap Entrepreneurial Development in this initiative.

Adams described her experience at Stenden University as life-changing.

“I learnt more about how to make something out of nothing. I also did not have self-confidence, but since receiving the training that has changed.

“I found myself and realised that being in the hospitality industry is what I want to do with my life,” Adams, who is more of a baker than a cook, said.

She said they were taught to not use a lot of spices in their food. That was one of the new things they were taught.

Adams said that she was sad to leave Port Alfred.

“To wake up in Port Alfred was like living in a dream. I knew what my daily tasks were, the opportunities were amazing, and I felt more motivated.”

For Petronella Karelse, 19, the opportunity was one that made her nervous because she had never been away from her family for a long time.

“But sometimes you have to make sacrifices in order to achieve something in life.

“One of my challenges was that I would not be able to communicate with the others but my concern was short-lived.

“We were like a family. They were my brothers and sisters and did not give me an opportunity to miss home that much.”

The group of youngsters from Helenvale in Port Elizabeth who completed a two-month training course in Port Alfred
JOB DONE: The group of youngsters from Helenvale in Port Elizabeth who completed a two-month training course in Port Alfred
Image: Supplied

Karelse said she was a bit scared to work in the kitchen at Stenden, because she knew that it would not be the same as working in the kitchen at home.

“I found myself in the kitchen and did not want to come home,” she laughed.

She has already applied to study towards a qualification in hospitality and catering next year.

Karelse said that when people think about Helenvale they see gangsterism and teenage pregnancies and the positive is never recognised.

“We showed them that the whitest lily grows in the darkest mud.”

Aurick Swartbooi, a skills development facilitator at Leap, said the course consisted of advanced cooking skills, assistant chef training, and Microsoft Office Suite.

They also had exposure to other aspects of the hospitality industry, and eight of them obtained their learner’s licenses.

According to Swartbooi, advertisements for the course were placed around Helenvale earlier this year, but the regulations for Covid-19 slowed down the process.

The group was selected based on their information in the database, the assessments they underwent, and an interview.

Leap will stay in touch with the group and will journey with them to work on their individual career paths.

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