While lockdown in South Africa led to many restaurants having to close shop for months and others having to close shop permanently, LungelwaBooysen (photo) did not only take on the responsibilities of a pastry chef at the restaurant where she works, but the restaurant itself underwent a transformation to offer customers even more delectable choices.

“Jardine Restaurant, which is called Jardine’s Food and Wine Bar now, was also closed for the lockdown from March to May,” says Lungelwa, who works as a pastry chef at Jardine’s.

During lockdown, Lungelwa supported herself and her young son through the UIF payments she received each month.

In May, she returned to work, but with no sitdown meals allowed due to the lockdown, Jardine’s started offering its fine dine menu as a takeaway option.

On 1 September, Jardine’s, which is based in Stellenbosch, opened for in-dining again, and customers are now able to choose between fine dining, happy hours, bar foods, and informal dining.

Thirty-year old Lungelwa Booysen started working at the famous Jardine’s as an Apprentice Chef in the cold section in 2018.

“I love fine dining. It’s so detailed and everything is prepared in a certain way to add to the experience,” says Lungelwa who completed the Cathsseta Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme at Bergzicht Training and Development.

The restaurant is owned by the highly acclaimed chef George Jardine, who is also Lungelwa’s mentor.

“The work I do in the kitchen at Jardine is very detailed and because I am a detailed person, I love that part of my job.”

While the industry she finds herself in, can be very demanding, it is the constant change that gets her excited.

“What really inspires me is that our menu changes every two weeks, so you never get bored with the dishes you are preparing. When I walk in in the morning, I always wonder what exciting dishes chef will be adding to the menu today and sharing with us to make in the kitchen? It keeps me on my toes and allows me to learn new things all the time.”

She believes that constructive criticism is what has helped her grow in leaps and bounds since she joined Jardine’s.

“It’s important to take in the advice and criticism you get in the kitchen, because it can take you a long way. Compliments are great, but I think criticism will take you much further in your career.”

She’s eternally grateful to Bergzicht Training and Development and to chef Jardine for equipping her with skills she can use to empower herself.

“I really want to thank chef George and Bergzicht Training and Development for allowing me to grow in the industry and allowing me to do the kind of work that I am passionate about.”

Photo: Bergzicht Training and Development alumnus, Lungelwa Booysen (right), has been promoted to a pastry chef at Jardine Food and Wine Bar, which is owned by the highly acclaimed chef, George Jardine (left), who is also Lungelwa’s mentor. (Lynne Rippenaar-Moses)