End of February and temperatures predicted for the day were mid 30’s. As we all got off the coach at Spier in Stellenbosch, at just before 11h00, you could ‘feel’ the heat of the day already.
Some went for a stroll looking at the Craft market; a few went to the wine tasting, but most gathered at the Farm Kitchen where coffee or a cold drink were the order-of-the-day. A few ladies decided on a slice of pecan nut pie or a decadent scone!
Pretty soon it was 11.45 and time to head off to The Private Hotel School in Vlottenburg Road, very close by. Based in the beautiful surroundings in the town of Stellenbosch, South Africa’s premier wine tourism destination, and the country’s culinary capital, The Private Hotel School is where hospitality dreams come true.
Students come from mainly South Africa, but a few Europeans join the course too to gain wonderful skills. It was interesting to chat to a few of them to hear the different accents!
We were met in reception where Carima, their administrative assistant, warmly welcomed us. We were taken into their library where reference books galore adorned the shelves. If students cannot find what they are looking for, the school has an arrangement with the Stellenbosch university where they can use their facilities as well. After this a short visit to the “Practice kitchen’ where students are given a daily task of a recipe and they work at individual work stations to perfect this dish. It might involve several ‘tries’ to ‘perfect’ the taste and this gives you some idea of the high standard at this hotel school!
Into the air-conditioned boardroom, we all went, where we sat at desks – “Back at School?!” again! Carima showed us a short background video of the school and answered questions in depth. By now it was 12h45 and Carima went into their restaurant to check whether they were ready for the group. What a treat to be met by these students all with such happy, smiling faces welcoming our group into the restaurant.
MENU FOR THE DAY
Roasted tomato gazpacho with cucumber, yoghurt, basil & tortilla crisp
Chili salt squid with aioli, mint, spring onion & radish salad
Braised pork belly with pommes puree, spinach, pickled red cabbage, mustard jus
Sweet & sour hake with broccoli, sweet potato, grapefruit salsa, coconut ginger cream
Coconut mousse with mango, olive oil cake & meringue
Baked Camembert with purple figs, dukkah & fig jam
A decadent lunch served by first year students who were quietly assessed in the background by one of their lecturers. Some degree of nervousness displayed by a few of them, but this is all part of the learning experience, eventually equipping them with skills to go out into the market place at whatever level they choose .
Pronounced by all a fabulous day out in Stellenbosch, in many ways a sort-of-day that allows you to relax and enjoy the company of others on the coach.