The Swiss Hotel School 2017 Graduate, Lara van der Merwe.

The Swiss Hotel School 2012 Graduate, Mutsa Masamvu.
10th June 2020
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As a child, I remember sitting in my grandparents’ backyard making a playful salad with all the greens and flowers I could find in the garden, inedible of course. I used to watch curiously as my dad cleaned and prepped freshly caught fish. Homemade banana bread and delicious dinners. This is where my passion for cooking and baking all started.

Not being able to sit still, I always knew I did not want to be stuck behind a desk for the rest of my life and soon had realised that the hospitality industry was the key. 

During a career day, many hospitality schools were displayed but one could not miss the Swiss Hotel School as their bold red SHS logo stood out. Upon hearing the vast opportunities the school had to offer, I attended one of their open day events. To my surprise, SHS was offering a new course, first of its kind, the Professional Chef Program. Focusing more towards the kitchen side of life and of course, that was me.

Driven, eager and ambitious to succeed as a chef, I started my journey at the Swiss Hotel School. From being an average scholar at school to an A+ student at the SHS it clearly showed my passion for the industry. During my time at the SHS, I was exposed to life-long memorable experiences at various industry placements and prestige hotels that grew my love, passion and knowledge for my career. From cleaning fish at the food lovers market to making macarons and exceptional desserts at the Saxon Hotel, each internship I entered I always made sure to go over and above all expectations making sure to leave my footprint whenever I moved on. With my hard work and dedication spent during all my internships, I can proudly say that I was offered a job at each.  With this said I have had the privilege of working with top industry professionals who have mentored and sculptured me into the chef I am today.

My first job was offered to me by a previous head pastry chef from one of my past internships where I had worked. I was employed as a CDP at an internationally known French restaurant, Paul Bakery. It was a great experience and a huge privilege to be a part of the opening team when Paul Bakery first opened its doors in South Africa.  A year later I was given a great opportunity to spread my wings wider and join an international Hotel group, The Four Seasons Hotel, Westcliff. With the pastry department being the centre of numerous outlets, it has enabled me to be a part of View (fine dining), Flames, IRD and Banqueting. I was employed as a Demi CDP in Pastry, and I was soon after promoted to CDP and in the same breath, I have the privilege of being appointed as a learning coach. My journey continues as I strive towards being a part of the managing team.

All the places I have interned at and worked for have played such a huge role in my life as a person and as a chef, each in a personal and professional way. Being a chef is not for the faint-hearted. Although being a chef in the hospitality industry is tough where hard work, long hours and much dedication is required – it is rewarding and satisfying in so many ways. I have learnt that no matter how hardcore, tiring or monotonous things with studies, internships, and work may get – there is always something to learn from the situation you are in and there is always something positive to come of it. 

The saying ‘Hard work pays off’ was written for a Chef.

– Lara