by Joy Robyn Dembo, married, with an 18 year old son and a 25 year old daughter.  Addicted to the www, particularly Twitter. Recruitment Response Handling Consultant and Freelance Copywriter, vegetarian and animal lover.  

With almost 8 years between my two children, it was beginning to feel as though I had been at school forever, so you can imagine my elation when my son passed Matric last year and I left school forever!!

My son had decided many years ago that he wanted to be a chef when he left school.  So, not withstanding the fact that he had never cooked anything other than 2-minute noodles and scrambled eggs, hated washing dishes and didn’t know the meaning of hard work, I filled in the 10 page application form for the Hotel School, signed the 21 page contract, paid the obscene fees, bought the R7000-00 worth of books (I always thought you could buy an entire library for R7000!),  paid for the hideously expensive uniforms (1 x suit and 2 times chef uniforms plus accessories),  bought the set of knives that look as though they came out of a serial killer’s boot (I watch the Crime & Investigation Channel a lot!), and paid for all the other incidentals!  You will notice that the words “bought” and “paid for” feature quite prominently in this paragraph.

Day one eventually arrived!

The first two days were taken up by a Wine Course (At an additional cost of R1200-00), and I am proud to say that I am now very knowledgeable when it comes to useless wine, port, sherry, brandy and sparkling wine facts. (If all else fails, I think I am fully equipped to apply for a job as a Sommelier)”

The second two days were dedicated to a Level 1 First Aid Course.  Apparently, by law, you have to do at least Level 1 before you are permitted to work in a hotel kitchen. My son is not a light boy and after spending two days on his knees practicing CPR on a dummy, he was almost crippled.  After taking truckloads of Voltaren and Myprodol, he was finally able to walk again (but only just!!).

Ryan is doing the 3 yr Diploma in Professional Cookery and Kitchen Management, which is divided into academic and practical sections, on a block release basis.  Ryan has been allocated to do part of the practical section first, and has been assigned to a 5-Star Rosebank Hotel.

Horror of horrors!  He is currently doing the 6:00 am (as in getting up in the middle of the night) – 2:00 pm shift.  As you can imagine, after doing this for almost 3 weeks, we are all floating around like Zombies!  But, despite the fact that Ryan has almost cut his finger off twice, and he finally knows the meaning of HARD work, after being on his feet for 8 hours straight, on a daily basis he is learning what it means to take your place in the “working world” and he is actually enjoying his course and savouring the experience of learning something new every day!

Me?  I am spending hours boiling, bleaching, soaking, washing and scrubbing an entire gourmet menu out of his WHITE chef uniform, on a daily basis, rushing to fetch him at 2-00pm, helping my hubby out with the morning lifts (I didn’t know it was possible to “sleep drive”) and fervently hoping that he will get his driver’s license soon and I will, at the very least, be served a Cordon Bleu meal, in the very near future!

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