Learning from the BEST in the industry

The ICA is the only culinary school in South Africa with the outstanding achievement of having more than 20 ICA-trained chefs listed on the country’s most prestigious restaurants awards lists in the past 5 years.

This is an achievement unequalled by any other culinary institution in SA.

One such graduate is Chef Michael Cooke – currently executive chef at the Camphors Restaurant @ Vergelegen who completed his studies at the ICA in 2006.

Not only did Michael take 6th place at the 2017 Eat Out Awards, he also won the 2017 Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award, being acknowledged as the chef of a restaurant that brings its customers seasonal, local and responsibly produced food, helping the country to move towards a more sustainable food system.

With the ICA 3-year diploma final examinations coming up – a highlight on the annual curricular calendar – Michael was chosen as alumni-inspiration for the examination thesis briefing.  In this capacity, the students were given the unique opportunity to experience an exclusive food and wine pairing with him and Vergelegen sommelier Christo Deyzel in preparation for their final examinations.  The exceptional pairing menu consisted of 6 courses of beautifully prepared dishes – paired with premium Vergelegen wines – including elements such as chestnut, garden leaves and wild herbs in keeping with the estate’s sustainability ethos for which Michael received such high recognition.

The students received invaluable information and vital tips which emphasised the importance of chefs and sommeliers working in harmony to obtain superiority in the marrying of food and wine, ultimately leading to culinary excellence – once again, a philosophy that resonates closely with the ICA’s own.

Chef Michael Cooke’s true passion for food and his most wonderful expression thereof on the plate and palate remains a constant inspiration to ICA lecturers and students.

To be the BEST, learn from the BEST.  And then pay it forward, like Michael does.

We are looking forward to the 2018 Eat Out Nominations due to be made public soon, rooting for ICA Alumni names to once again dominate the South African culinary stage.


Results of this year’s awards will be announced here on the ICA website shortly after the glamorous awards ceremony at Grand West in Cape Town on 18 November.