There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread to awaken your appetite. Today, this unmistakable and tantalising smell wafts down the corridors of the SA College for Tourism in Graaff-Reinet as a class of students learn to bake delicious bread as part of their hospitality training.

The SA College for Tourism is a non-profit run under the auspices of Peace Parks Foundation. Since 2001, with an intake of 90 students per year, the college has provided young men and women from impoverished backgrounds with opportunities for a better future. The college has three tourism-centred pillars: hospitality training, animal tracking, and livestock herding. These accredited courses equip individuals with specialised knowledge to obtain gainful employment at lodges, reserves, and other nature-based or eco-tourism businesses.

A major focus of the hospitality training lies within the culinary department, where students learn how to handle the heat that comes with being a chef. Here, they are taught valuable culinary skills that will one day be used for preparing breakfasts at a game lodge, tea time at an eco-hotel, or snacks for a bush braai!

The hospitality training course goes beyond just the culinary arts and professional cooking, with a focus placed on other skills development in areas including accommodation services and housekeeping, food and beverage services, and front-of-house or reception services. Through a combination of both practical and theoretical modules, life skills training—from emotional intelligence and financial planning to leadership and entrepreneurial skills—is woven into the curriculum to ensure students receive genuinely holistic training.

Professional catering is a vital ingredient for hospitality and tourism, and the SA College for Tourism gives young people the essential skills they need for it. Stay tuned to see what other mouth-watering dishes this year’s class serves up next.