The Eziko Cooking and Catering School, located in the heart of Langa Township just 15kms from the centre of Cape Town, was established in 1996 by a former Langa High School teacher, Victor Mguqulwa. His mission is to address the unemployment that strikes the township communities. While teaching at the local school Victor noticed that there was a high interest in the cooking programmes and competitions at the school. He realized that by providing youngsters with cooking skills they would be able to find employment and create their own businesses in the future. Safmarine provided the initial shipping containers that were used to build the school and also donated further shipping containers to build the restaurant for Eziko. An initial idea led to the creation of a school that has now been operating for more then ten years.
Victors’ vision is that the community can only develop by making people claim responsibility for their problems and their future. By taking the approach that you must ‘teach people how to fish rather than catching the fish for them’, Eziko is dedicated to provide people with life and career-oriented skills in cooking and catering and “empower” them to find employment so they can provide for themselves and their families.
Students are carefully selected and begin their training at the Eziko Cooking and Catering Training Centre where they gain some basic experience in the Eziko Restaurant. They are then placed in one of the sponsoring catering establishments for an intensive 6-month placement.
The Eziko approach is to teach “self reliance”, which results in our students learning how to create a sustainable future for themselves and their families. To do this, we complement the formal education now available in most townships by providing entry-level skills training and employment placement in the restaurant /hospitality industry.
The School has ongoing funding requirements. This has proved very stressful over the recent recession period. This is due to the fact that the self generated funding for the school, which came from running a restaurant on the property that offers African cuisine to the locals and to visiting tourists, dried up. The school also generated money from running a catering business out of the school and restaurant. This also slowed to a trickle. Should you be a “foodie” visiting the Cape, the school has an ongoing need for inspirational cooking literature, cooking equipment, chefs that can come and do guest lectures, wine makers to train the kids in the basics, kitchen equipment, computers etc! The great news for this year is that Pick n’ Pay has come on board and has granted the Eziko School R100 000 for ingredients. This is a substantial donation and should last us at least two years for our grocery and fresh produce requirements! Thank you Pick n’ Pay!
Any small contribution leaves a mark and an impact. Many thanks to our recent contributors!
AFRICAN CUISINE COOKING CLASSES: Some years ago I met up with Victor and discussed the idea of bringing foodies into the school/restaurant to learn how to cook African cuisine. Through visiting the school people would gain access to the main cuisine of our country that is eaten by around 70% of the population. The African cuisine is however a “home” cuisine and as such is not easily accessible to the everyday person who visits our country. As a committed foodie, I know that the first thing I wish to do when I visit a country is to try and local cuisine. How frustrating for find that if you visit South Africa, it is hard to access. As such I discussed with Victor the opportunity of bringing people to cook the local cuisine. Through visiting the school, the visitors would leave a “mark” as the proceeds would contribute towards the main cooking school and people would be able to see a working upliftment project as well as to interact with some of the Langa locals who work on the project. My cooking classes have now been running for a couple of years at the school – and yes it has contributed a little – but cooking is definitely a niche product and I don’t think we will ever have large numbers visiting! Click here to read my blog on the African cooking experience in Langa