Two years ago Siyabulela Booi was unsure of where he life was headed. On Friday, the young chef from Gugulethu in Cape Town will be jetting off to France to learn the art of making pastries.
Booi is a graduate of the Amy Foundation’s Youth Skills Development (YSD) Hospitality Programme.
Back in 2016, the 19-year-old Booi enjoyed cooking but did not really know much about being a chef. That was when he enrolled in the programme run by the Amy Foundation, previously the Amy Biehl Foundation, and so began his blossoming career as a chef.
According to the foundation, in 2016 he completed a one-month internship at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, gaining experience in both front-of-house service and the kitchen. It was whilst there that he truly found his passion, the culinary arts.
In December of 2016, Booi joined the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Newlands for a six-month internship, working as a trainee chef. Then after an additional six months, and recognising his potential, the hotel offered to sponsor his further training. They would pay 50% of his expenses to take a three-year diploma course at the South African’s Chefs Academy(SACA). He accepted the offer and continued learning.
“He has received a Level One Certificate from the Academy and in April received his Level Two Diploma,” the foundation said.
“He is now beginning his third year of study, specialising in pastry. Throughout his studies, he has continued to work full time at the Vineyard Hotel as a trainee chef, while spending one day at college.
“This year Siyabulela was awarded a six-week bursary to study in France. It is with partners like the Vineyard Hotel, who nurture the youth of South Africa and believe in them, which in turn allows these youngsters to dream big. Through this partnership, Siya will be able to experience France first-hand, whilst there he will be attending the Le Calabash Chefs Training Academy.”
When he returns to South Africa he will again be in the Vineyard Hotel and Spa’s kitchen and continue his studies at the South African Chefs Academy where he will finish Level Three. This level is the highest level offered by the Academy.
On his days off, Booi gives back to the Amy Foundation by volunteering to assist as a junior facilitator in the Youth Skills Development (YSD) Hospitality programme.
Booi said that he would eventually like to be an executive or private chef, with his ultimate goal being that of owning his own restaurant.
“Because of the opportunities the Foundation provided me I see my future and it is exciting,” Booi said.
According to Tracey Younghusband, the Hospitality Programme’s facilitator, “Siyabulela is a great inspiration to our new students and a wonderful mentor”.
The Amy Foundation’s programme’s for young adults is designed to provide a safe environment in challenged and vulnerable communities where they develop emotionally well-rounded children and youth who make positive life choices and become contributing members of society.