ICA Students Taste Success

Every year, a carefully selected number of students embark on a unique culinary journey during their first year at the Institute of Culinary Arts (ICA),  South Africa’s most highly acclaimed chef school.

As students progress through the steep and intense learning curve throughout their first year – enduring both long hours in the cooking and pâtisserie training kitchens, as well as rigorous theoretical classes – the journey towards their end destination starts to take shape.

After a year of practical and academic training on campus, the excitement of their very first industry placement in a world-class restaurant kitchen leads to yet another intensive personal and professional growth and learning period. Students are meticulously paired with selected chef-mentors to guide them on to the next phase of their training. It is here that students learn to apply their skills and knowledge in a working kitchen, together with all the bells, whistles blows and throws of normal restaurant industry work. The setting is often vastly different from the ICA’s training ground. Still, students are thoroughly prepared and equipped to embrace new learning and skills to be acquired – both as part of the kitchen brigade and as an individual.

Coming back to the ICA for their 2nd-year academic phase after successfully completing their first experiential training block, sees learners who have developed into mature students with newly acquired skills of real-life industry experience.

Once students progress to their third and final academic year, they are ready to move on to their chosen Specialization Field and indeed intensify their culinary knowledge and skill sets in a niche environment. Whether their chosen specialization field be Media Communication, Professional Wine Studies & Event Coordination, or Product Development (NPD), in their 3rd year, students will broaden their culinary horizons into the marketplace where their unique training and skills are valued, sought-after and respected.

The nature of the culinary industry is such that it is constantly shifting, with new trends and tendencies emerging every season. This requires world-class culinary aptitude paired with innovative thinking. However, culinary fundamentals never change and never go out of fashion. A solid grasp of the science behind the art form will ensure long-lasting career success.

ICA students are often at the forefront of innovation, yet maintain a uniquely formulated foundation in French cuisine. As the culinary market evolves and changes, graduate chefs are constantly required to employ their foundational skills, yet innovate and develop tastes that are current and up-to-date.

Vicci Vierbergen (ICA Graduate 2020) was offered a permanent position of employment at In2Foods (a product development company for large retailers such as Woolworths) upon graduating from the ICA.

In the first Woolworths TASTE magazine of 2023 (Jan/Feb), a brand new fish paste was featured on p. 69. This product is Vicci’s work that she has developed and perfected over the past months, breathing new life into an old kitchen staple that has disappeared from shop shelves. Through meticulous attention, Vicci brought fresh flavours and techniques to a much-loved classic, while remaining true to the nostalgic taste! Seeing one’s own product in shops all over the country is immensely gratifying and shows that ICA chefs remain at the forefront of culinary progress.