Purees and melkterts; miracle Karoo school

Purees and melkterts; miracle Karoo school.

(A Toverview work-in-progress model, for its WordPress and Facebook readers. You are most welcome to practice language translation opportunities, including through Google… Which is another way of saying, “Hello”, and …..

Ngexesha elithile,kwaye kwenye indawo, kule projekthi yonxibelelwano…  Eens op ‘n tyd, en op ‘n plek, in hierdie projek oor kommunikasie… Once, upon a time, and upon a place, in this project on communications…

Here is our first Guest Writer invited for TOVERVIEW.

This is Phakamisa Mayaba, a creative writer, based in Kuyasa, Colesberg’s largest residential area. Phakamisa has opened a growing independent web-site, EPARKENI; also with a facebook link.

On his site, you can find ‘Mbulelo Kafi, the short man with big ideas’. He reported on ‘Premier visits Colesberg this womens’ day’. He has written ‘To the shebeen queen’,  and ‘The Foreign connection’. One of his reviews is about the book ‘Skollie’. He visits Colesberg’s new digital media in ‘About us – the farmer, the wino, and the hippie tech’. He questions ‘Are South Africans our brothers keepers?’  He explores ‘ eParkeni, Colesberg’s Online Voice’…..   (Photograph Janco Piek, edited by Les Osler).

Here is Phakamis’s logo to access his web-site.   

And here is his latest article

Puree and melkterts: miracle karoo school.

Getting ready to bounce ’em pots ‘n pans.

Nestled in a quaint, unassuming part of Colesberg lies a small house that goes a long way in accounting for the town’s savourable culinary offerings and the warm service visitors are pampered with when stopping over in the Karoo. The Hantam Hospitality School, manned by three hardline women embodies something of a miracle in a place where good stories are often very far and few between. On our visit eParkeni fell into the affable embrace of hospitable students who’ve still not forgotten the merits of greeting with broad smiles and pulling out a chair even to intrusive guests.

In their chef’s gear, they scurry and rummage around a sprawling work counter. Knives chopping and dicing. Pans flipping. Stoves aflaming and our nostrils cajoled by scents from parts of the world one only ever reads about.

The Head Chef

Hair tied to a slicked-down, secretarial ponytail the chef Maryke Jefferys runs a tight enterprise. Nimble-footed. She is the omniscient figure peering over a student’s shoulder or quipping an expert cooking opinion. A Pretoria native who’s been in the Karoo for the better of two decades, she is just one part of the troika overseeing the place’s day to day functioning. She is the quintessential pots and pans scholar. Jargon like “poaching,” “blanching,” “gourmet” rolling off her tongue like a chart-topping pop ditty.

The blackboard tells us what’s on the menu today. Pommes dauphinos. Orange burre blanc sauce and poached chicken rolade. Aromas wafting in the kitchen are enough to persuade a writer that he’s perhaps in the wrong career.

The Housekeeper

The place is scrubbed spick and span. Floors gleaming, surfaces dusted and the students are about to dig into a lunch they’ve prepared themselves. There are handfood platters. Bakes with meaty fillings and drizzled with puree and Berenda Andreas is sunning herself up over a coffee out under the wraparound porch. Hers is the housekeeping end of things.

“The school,” she says, “is focused on giving housekeeping, reception, cooking and waitron training to deserving but often underprivileged children.”


What’s for grub? Hantam Culinary School students doing what they do best.

“When new students walk through our doors. They don’t really have skills. We aim to change this during their time here.” The entrance criteria is simple enough; “just as long as the applicant can read and write. Preferably in English as that’s the lingua franca of the study material.”

Currently, a total of 23 students are enrolled. After about four months of theory they will be placed at an established business for their practicals.

Perhaps it is what Berenda calls “paying attention to detail and understanding the underpinnings of the hospitality trade” that sees many of these students being ultimately employed in businesses across town.”

How does the school manage to tread above water when many privately-run institutions are going asunder though?

It’s a no-fee school. No government funding. Still, the computers are working, the pantry is fully-stocked, the place is B&B-immaculate and nobody seems to be in any obvious distress.

A certain matronly Estelle Jacobs might have something to do with that. Established in 2008 “out of a need to give a leg-up to the student who asks ‘what about me who has not passed Matric or can’t afford to go to college – what hope is there for me’” is the question that gave her, the principal, sleepless nights.

Although this was around the time where “skills training” was a buzzword, it hasn’t been exactly plainsailing over the years to get things where they are. In the early days with just a handful of students they were dependent on the good graces of local businesses to get things limping onward. Funding was paltry, the intake was low and progress was sluggish.

The Big Dawgs

In stepped Pretoria-based Steyn’s Culinary School who provided early learning material. An enduring player in the cooking game, affiliating with them seemed only the logical step to better prospects. Because they are with the City and Guild, the school enjoys international accreditation. Not bad for a smalltown school, in a backwater dorpie conceived by a garrulous farmer’s wife.

Like most developmentalists, she is chuffed when things happen. When facilities are built. Tools of trade bought and students are thriving. “When students who otherwise had no hopes, dreams or future” says Jacobs, “come back as supervisors in big businesses and are able to take care of their children makes me hopeful that there is hope, no matter how small.”

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