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The Silo Hotel Dining

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24 July2020

by Nicole Sorour

An opportunity for The Royal Portfolio's kitchen staff to improve their future career paths.

Starting as Kitchen Porters and washing dishes at The Silo Hotel, Thobela Bawulisi and Monwabisi Ntenyani displayed an interest in advancing their culinary skills.  With the help of Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert, they were chosen to enroll in The Royal Portfolio Culinary Internship Programme. The Royal Portfolio Culinary Internship Programme was created as an opportunity for our current kitchen staff to enrich their skill set, improve their livelihoods and broaden their future career paths. We are excited to announce that both Thobela and Monwabisi have returned to complete their second year as culinary interns after disruptions caused by Covid-19 had resulted in the temporary closure of our hotels.

The Tourism and Hospitality industry is considered to be a key element in South Africa’s economy and is responsible for 8.5% of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) providing jobs for over 1.5 million people. At The Royal Portfolio we believe passionately in investing in Africa. In keeping with our Purpose and Values, we strive to protect the environment and uplift local communities and have developed The Royal Portfolio Culinary Internship Programme as well as our Guiding Apprenticeships at Royal Malewane, which has become one of the most sought after guiding apprenticeships in South Africa.

The Royal Portfolio Culinary Internship Programme aims to supply the group and the hospitality industry with highly trained and efficient chefs. Training at a number of our properties and their unique locations, the culinary interns will have a diverse base of knowledge to draw from and will be equipped with both operational and supervisory level experience. Our vision is to have one of the leading and prestigious culinary internships in the country. Our mission is to create an environment where we can uplift individuals from our immediate communities, and through a structured training course, allow them to grow into talented and sought-after chefs.

Since becoming culinary interns Thobela and Monwabisi have displayed tireless dedication and have continued to achieve beyond our expectations. The Royal Portfolio Culinary Internship Programme begins with our interns being enrolled at the South African Chefs Academy (SACA). We are extremely proud of both Thobela and Monwabisi for passing the Certificate Course last year with distinction. This year they will be completing the Diploma Course in Patisserie while working alongside The Silo Hotel’s head pastry chef Devin and his team. The theoretical part of the course is taught at SACA, as the culinary interns attend class once a week for six months, while the practical part is completed in our kitchens as they work full-time alongside our head chefs.

Thobela Bawulisi

Second Year Culinary Intern currently enrolled at SACA completing the Diploma Course.

“I was born in 1997 and was raised in Gugulethu. When I was a teenager we moved to Samora Machel township. After my mother passed away in 2017, I had to drop out of grade 11, and at the age of 19 I became the sole provider for myself and my siblings.

My uncle Sydney was part of the opening team of The Silo Hotel and he helped me get a position as a Kitchen Porter. I would clean the kitchen, help pack away the produce and wash countless dishes. But what I really enjoyed was assisting the staff with preparing the staff meals.

Executive Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert (Chef V) and my uncle Sydney had both done their chef internships at the Mount Nelson Hotel and Chef V wanted to start the same programme at The Silo Hotel – I was over the moon when I, along with Monwabisi Ntenyani, were chosen to be a part of the pilot programme. I was so excited because it was always my dream to be a chef, just like my uncle, and I knew I had to prove to Chef V that I could do this!

I am currently enrolled at SACA completing my Diploma Course after passing the Certificate Course with distinction last year. Being a Royal Portfolio culinary intern is opening up the world for me and I couldn’t be prouder about being able to support my family doing what I love.

My ambition is to travel and become a better chef. One day I hope to have my own kitchen.”

Monwabisi Ntenyani

Second Year Culinary Intern currently enrolled at SACA completing the Diploma Course.

“I was born at King Edward Hospital in Durban and lived in Mthatha Rural area. When I was six, my family moved to Cape Town. After my father passed I had to drop out of school during my grade 11 year.

I did a few odd jobs before I was employed by The Silo Hotel as a Kitchen Porter. In 2018 I was moved to The Silo’s Rooftop kitchen where I worked with Chefs Sydney and Nqobile who took me under their wing and showed me how to prepare the dishes. They rekindled my desire to be a chef.

Chef V saw my passion and promoted me to a Royal Portfolio culinary intern and in 2019 I was enrolled into SACA to do my Certificate Course which I passed with distinction.  It is with great excitement that I am enrolled in the Diploma Course this year. Being a culinary intern has given me direction and hope for a better future for my family. My ambition is to work hard and grow into a strong chef and to one day have my own restaurant.”

Pictured: Monwabisi (right) and Thobela (left).

We look forward to following both Thobela and Monwabisi as they continue to thrive in the completion of their Diploma Course at SACA, as well as our up-coming culinary interns: Pakamani & Akhona (First Year Interns) will be starting at SACA in 2021 due to delays caused by Covid-19 and Sithembele & Tiffany (Kitchen Hands) are to be accepted into SACA in 2021.  As part of the course, the culinary interns complete a year of working in the kitchen. This allows them to see what exactly being in an industrial kitchen might entail.

We also look forward to continuing our Guiding Apprenticeships at Royal Malewane. Juan Pinto and Wilson Masiya have been instrumental in creating one of the most sought after guiding apprenticeships in South Africa. Royal Malewane takes on two apprentice rangers with aptitude and potential on a rolling two year cycle before sending them out into the industry in order to raise the quality of guiding in Southern Africa. This challenging apprenticeship includes spending two years in a small canvas tent in the wild, gaining first hand experience in the bush while at the same time completing essential FGASA qualifications.

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