August 30, 2019

Advice from Women in the Kitchen

Chefs at Table Bay Hotel

The Table Bay goes beyond the call of duty to include young women in high level positions in their kitchens.

A team of strong and talented women are behind Executive Chef Keshan Rambarun at The Table Bay. Located at the V&A Waterfront in the Cape, this professional kitchen is leading by example to hire the best young women to blaze a trail for females in the culinary trade – an inherently male-dominated space to date.

28-year-old Pastry Chef Lee-Andra Govender heads up the party kitchen at The Table Bay. She has won the Chefs Who Share Young Chef of the Year Award in 2016, and conducted her internship at the Michelin-star Vineet Bhatia in London. She was also one of the Sun International’s Time Square in Tshwane Gauteng before taking up her current position.

Lee-Andra has inspiring advice for young chefs looking to enter the sector: “Being a chef isn’t easy.  It means long, strange hours. It requires constant learning and innovation. Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done, it can!”

The 22-year-old Sous Chef, Roslind Daniels, adds that “This is actually a women’s world they got twisted as usual.” She adds that despite advocating for more women in the kitchen, it is a touch career and should be well thought through. “The kitchen is not for the fainthearted and it can get really tough.”

Another Sous Chef, Regina Motaung, adds that young women entering the hospitality industry should research it well – even if it means volunteering their time to get a feel for what to expect. Take time to master your skill by starting from the bottom and working your way up the ranks. Make education a priority and never stop learning,” she says, adding that, “Being a woman leader in the man’s world is not a burden but a platform to inspire and motivate others.”

Chef de Partie, Amy Moore, has been with The Table Bay for a year having completed her studies at the Cape Town Hotel School. Still climbing the ranks, she says, “This field is thrilling but tough. We work in an industry where men are considered more capable, because of the long hours, pressure and heat of the kitchen. When I was a student I was eager to learn from as many sections in the kitchen as possible and when I went into the hot section I was told ‘this is no place for a woman to be’. This is the sad truth we face, but we need to be strong, we need to fight to prove our worth. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You are capable of whatever you put your mind too. Your only obstacle is your own limitations.”

Silvia Fulani, a Demi Chef who has worked at The Table Bay for 15 years, believes that anyone considering a career in the kitchen should be inspired by food and cooking. “You have to be passionate and be inspired by what you do. I learn new things every day, and to be able to show off my skills, motives me and inspires me to keep learning and keep getting better. I enjoy working in our team, respecting each other, learning from each other, and helping each other grow. I also want to further my studies, and knowing the company can assist me motivates me to work even harder.”

Chef de Partie, Farzanah Harris, agrees, saying that she draws inspiration from anything and everything she comes into contact with. “I love to try new flavour combinations, even things that shouldn’t belong together. This changes the way I taste food and it keeps me inspired. I look more for a flavour experience than anything else. I also like to check social media and stay on top of the trends, as this gives me new ideas and fresh perspectives.”

Read more in Issue 14 of the SA Chef

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