Orphaned in his teens, Phakamisa Kolisi learned to cook when he was left alone to look after himself and his younger brother.
Both siblings were passionate about expressing their creative gifts, with the younger brother going into the creative arts industry, and Phakamisa making waves in the hospitality industry.
In 2007, Phakamisa heard about the Umzi Wethu hospitality academy in Port Elizabeth, and decided to apply for a scholarship. His previous experience in the theatre gave him the confidence to excel in the initial interview, and after the selection trail, he was selected as one of the students for the third intake of the Umzi Wethu academy.
After living alone with his brother, the experience of the residence with almost 20 other students was something that Phakamisa loved most about his year at the academy. “Residence was one of the best things. We became like family. Because of Umzi, we all became successful today. I stay in touch with my fellow graduates and I love to hear about what they’re doing in life.”
Practical training in the kitchens and front of house service were two of Phakamisa’s favourite aspects of Umzi Wethu. He remembers clearly the day that he discovered quiche and lasagne. “I love cooking quiche, it is delicious! When I cook for my brother, I make lasagne.”
He recalls one of the lifeskills modules that changed his life. “One day Josh was telling us that to succeed in life, we need to become valuable people. We need to give people a reason to cry at our funeral! That was a life lesson that really stuck with me.”
Phakamisa believes that Umzi Wethu helped build his confidence and self-esteem and gave him the skills he needed to pursue his dreams of a career in hospitality.
Following graduation, he was employed at the Shamwari Townhouse (now No 5 Boutique Art Hotel) where he worked as a commis chef for two years. “I was one of just two students chosen to work there,” he recalls proudly. He worked diligently on preparation, salads and dessert, but was always keen to move on and try his hand at the grill.
It was at his next position at Isango Gate that he got a chance to show his true colours as a chef. After just two months he was promoted to chef de partie and he worked the grill for a year and a half.
Phakamisa has also worked at two other exclusive hotels in the Eastern Cape including Pumba Private Game Reserve as a sous chef and at the Radisson Hotel as a senior chef de partie. It was here that he was put in charge of banqueting and had a role in menu planning and budgeting.
In early 2013, he came full circle when he was employed back in the kitchens of No 5 Boutique Art Hotel as the head chef. “I’m now in charge of budgeting, ordering, invoicing, stock control and menu planning,” says Phakamisa. His favourite dish on the menu these days has changed from quiche to beetroot risotto!
His advice to future Umzi Wethu students is to immerse themselves in their passion. “If you like food, be around food as much as possible! I subscribe to food magazines and I’m a member of the SA Chef’s Association. I also watch as many cooking programmes as possible so that I can get inspired. Also, don’t underestimate the programme. Take the opportunity with both hands!”
His top tip for the kitchen? “Use butter to make your veg taste delicious. I don’t believe in cooking veg with oil.”
Submitted by: Claire Warneke on behalf of Umzi Wethu.
These businesses support MyPE:
MyPE supports PE business:
Article source: http://mype.co.za/new/2013/07/phakamisa-kolisi/