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The Swiss Hotel School 2017 Graduate, Kudzai Kupeta.

Coronavirus Response Kit for Restaurants
21st July 2020
SHS Features in SA Chef Magazine as The Next Generation of Leaders.
11th August 2020

The Swiss Hotel School gave me such a wealth of knowledge and experience, where do I begin?? I guess the beginning will have to do…

From the tender age of 7, I’ve always been drawn to the kitchen. It’s when I made my first meal, eggs with some fried greens and toast … suffice to say I was the only one willing to try it lol.

Fast-forward to my last year in high school, I was confused and didn’t know what career path to take. You see I excelled in mathematics and the sciences, so all my teachers and both my parents pushed me in that direction. But it never sat well with me. So, I took a gap year to learn a bit more about myself. I worked as a swimming coach and a life coach to keep busy. Then the guillotine came calling, my time had come. So, I did what everyone else was doing, I applied to prestigious Universities in the country, WITS and UCT. I applied to study law, accounting and computer sciences. Being a double major sounded so easy at the time ?.

I was accepted but WITS denied me the Law program, so it looked like I was moving to Cape Town. At the last minute though I panicked and pulled out. This course my life was taking didn’t sit well with me, so to the dismay of my family, I took another gap year.

I sought the counsel of one of my cousins, who is also an alumnus of SHS. She was working for the “IT” restaurant in Harare at the time, and she shared her SHS story with me. She reignited my childhood passion for food and I researched everything I could about the Swiss Hotel School. I came to an open day where I met Chef Chad Humby and I knew at that moment that this was the school for me.

The combination of theory and on-site practical’s puts SHS ahead of everyone. At every internship, we were better prepared than our counterparts from different schools. Our craft in hospitality necessitates practice to perfect and that’s what I received at SHS. The groups always have students from different backgrounds and cultures and so we learn to accommodate and celebrate those differences. This prepares you for working in Hospitality, where you work with and serve people from all over the world. It’s hard work but it’s worth it.

2 internships shaped me the most. The first was at DW Eleven – 13 restaurant, a small award-winning fine dining restaurant here in Johannesburg, run and owned by Chef Marthinus Ferreira. I met Mario Monteiro and he set me on the path of wine. I was fascinated by how a grape can take on so many different flavor profiles, mushrooms and spice. That’s how I started on the wine path, learning how soil and climate affect the taste of grapes.

The 2nd internship was in France, an opportunity I got thanks to Mr T. I spent 5 months in a small Michelin star restaurant, Auberge de l’île Barbe. It was truly an invaluable experience, seeing what it takes to run a fine dining restaurant at the highest level. I also took a trip to Côte-Rôtie, a wine Appellation in France which cemented my desire to work as a Sommelier.

My final year was one for the books. I had shared 2 years with a diverse group of friends and it all came down to that 1 last class project. “Teamwork makes the Dreamwork” is a mantra I won’t forget anytime soon. Collectively as a group what we achieved goes beyond the

balance sheet, we created a memorable experience for our guests, which is all you can ask for in hospitality.

After graduating I was offered a permanent job as Assistant Manager and Sommelier at DWEleven-13. It’s been an amazing 2 and a half years. I’ve learnt so much but don’t be fooled. If there’s anything I’ve come to appreciate is that you don’t and can never know everything, so keep learning and stay humble.

My journey is by no means complete, I still love cooking and now I love wine. The Swiss Hotel School was the perfect steppingstone for my career. They gave me the tools I need to succeed in this industry. And I plan on doing just that.