Any aspiring young chef will understand Andiswa Mqedlana’s joy at having been selected to receive one of this year’s Young Chefs’ Grants to attend the 2020 Oxford Food Symposium.
“I can’t say this is a dream come true because I never thought I’d reach this level so soon in my career,” she said.
“When I enrolled at the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine, I committed to doing my best and going for every opportunity offered. I can hardly believe what has happened.”
Due to Covid-19, however, the symposium will be convened electronically and not, as usual, in Oxford, England. This will be an adjustment for organisers and participants, with the full symposium experience now scheduled for 2021, when Andiswa will join other participants at St Catherine’s College in the UK.
“That means I’ll get two chances,” she said.
Andiswa said she is nervous about visiting an unknown destination, but won’t let them get in the way of her becoming a successful businesswoman.
“This is not a time to allow nerves to take charge. I’m going to learn, share and experience what I can so I can achieve my goal of developing within the culinary industry. One day, I hope to look back with pride at the people I have impacted.”
The Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery exists to celebrate, explore and share food research by scholars, enthusiastic amateurs, writers and chefs from around the world. This year the focus is on herbs and spices.
World-renowned foodie Harold McGee was on the selection panel this year. He is the author of many books and his interests include the chemistry of food and cooking, and the science of everyday life. He has worked alongside some of world’s most innovative chefs, including Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal. Andiswa will have the honour of working alongside him.
After completing the food and wine course at Jackie Cameron’s school, Andiswa did her internship at Hartford House in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, before taking up the position of managing chef of the school’s restaurant.
“We are all very excited for, and proud of, Andiswa,” said Cameron.
“Andiswa’s success illustrates the rewards perseverance offers. We have a strict regime at the school and that’s the reason our students win awards and the reason we can guarantee a placement once they have completed the course.”