Siyabulela Booi is a young chef from Gugulethu. Just two and a half years ago Siyabulela wasn’t sure where life would lead him. He enjoyed cooking but states that he really knew nothing. Enter the Amy Foundation’s Youth Skills Development (YSD) Hospitality Programme. Siyabulela enrolled in the programme in 2016 at age 19. That year he completed a one-month internship at the 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, gaining experience in both front-of-house service and the kitchen. While there he truly found his passion, the culinary arts. After that first internship, he continued in the Foundation’s programme and spent several more sessions learning all he could.
In December of that year, he joined the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands for a six-month internship, working as a trainee chef. Then after an additional six months, recognizing his potential, the hotel offered to sponsor Siyabulela’s further training. They would pay 50% of his expenses to take a three-year diploma course at the South African’s Chefs Academy(SACA). He accepted the offer and continued learning.
He has received a Level One Certificate from the Academy and in April received his Level Two Diploma. He is now beginning his third year of study, specialising in pastry. Throughout his studies, he has continued to work full time at the Vineyard Hotel as a trainee chef, while spending one day at college.
This year Siyabulela was awarded a six-week bursary to study in France through le Calabash Ecole Culinaire. It is with partners like them and the Vineyard Hotel, who nurture the youth of South Africa and believe in them, which in turn allows these youngsters to dream big. Through this partnership, Siya will be able to experience France first-hand, whilst there he will be attending the le Calabash Ecole Culinaire and Siya has been awarded a sponsored internship and leaves this July. A once in a lifetime opportunity!
When he returns to South Africa he will again be in the Vineyard Hotel’s kitchen and continue his studies at the South African Chefs Academy where he will finish Level Three. This level is the highest level offered by the Academy.
On his days off, Siyabulela gives back to the Amy Foundation by volunteering to assist as a junior facilitator in the Youth Skills Development (YSD) Hospitality programme.
His future plans are tied to what he said is his continuing growth as a chef. He will continue at the Vineyards while building his resume. Eventually, he would like to be an executive or private chef. His ultimate goal is to own his own restaurant. “Because of the opportunities the Foundation provided me I see my future and it is exciting”, Siyabulela said. “ I wonder where I would be without them?”
According to Tracey Younghusband, the Hospitality Programme’s facilitator, “Siyabulela is a great inspiration to our new students and a wonderful mentor”
Siyabulela’s story is one that exemplifies the goals of the Amy Foundation’s programme’s for young adults: To provide a safe environment in challenged and vulnerable communities where they develop emotionally well-rounded children and youth who make positive life choices and become contributing members of society.
It is the Amy Foundation’s hope that Siyabulela’s story will inspire other young people.
Tel : 021 447 1690
Featured in photo: Siyabulela Booi Amy Foundation YSD learner and Chef Carl Van Rooyen Vineyard Hotel (Executive Chef)