Twenty-two year old, Simonsig-born, Taryn Bianca Baadjies is one to look out for in the hospitality industry. Raised by her grandparents, the Bergzicht Training and Development graduate experienced loss at a young age.

“I lost my grandmother from cancer when I was 15 years old and unfortunately my grandfather passed away as well the following week. I think he could not bear the trauma of losing the love of his life and the whole experience left me in distraught as they were the only people I held dear to my heart,” says Baadjies.

She dropped out of school and started working to support her family.

After her grandparents’ funeral, she had to immediately move in with her mother and stepfather since she was still a minor. The relationship with her parents was strained, mainly because of a lack of finances. Taryn had to drop out of school during Grade 11 and started working at the Simonsig Wine Estate as a wine adviser and cleaner.

“I had no other option but to quit school because the situation at home was not pleasant and finding a job to help around the house was the only solution. Unfortunately the job ended and I was unemployed for a full two years. In my state of being unemployed, I also fell pregnant which meant more bills and responsibilities around the house.”

Soon after the birth of her son, her mother told her about a place in Stellenbosch that helped people who wanted to better their lives and find jobs. This was how Taryn learned about Bergzicht Training and Development.

“My love story with how I got to know about Bergzicht Training and Development is something I never get tired of talking about because it touches my heart till this day. As a high school dropout I did not think I would be given the opportunity to acquire education by any institution, but Bergzicht Training and Development gave me my big break.”

After completing the iPOWER (Self-Empowering) Foundation Programme, Taryn found her calling when she was selected for the Cathsseta Food Service Assistant and Food and Beverage Service Programme.

“I was not sure at first what to apply for at the institution because I knew cooking was not my strength. I thought cooking was just chopping the meat and putting it into the fire to cook by itself but when they taught me about knife skills, I knew then and there that I had found my passion and it was in hospitality.”

After training at Bergzicht Training and Development for four months, she eventually graduated in 2020 and became one of the first graduates in her class to get a permanent job whilst doing her practical at Muratie Wine Estate.

“It was really all in my determination and drive, and I think that is what my bosses saw in me. I was always willing to learn with a smile on my face and always putting in the extra effort,” she added.

According to Kim Melck of Muratie Wine Estate, Taryn’s dedication and passion has impressed the management team at the Muratie Farm Kitchen, where Taryn works as a Cook and Kitchen Assistant. Muratie has a longstanding relationship with Bergzicht Training and Development and many of the NGO’s students have completed their work-integrated learning (WIL) component there, with some permanently appointed at the estate after their WIL.

“Taryn has been an absolute joy,” said Kim.

“I have yet to meet someone who, no matter the time of day, is always eager to help and always with a huge smile. She is eager to learn and has taken on many tasks. She also bakes the most beautiful bread. Nothing is too much trouble for her and she is truly a pleasure to work with. We look forward to seeing her grow and learn each day and hope that she will be with us for many more years.”

Taryn encourages other unemployed persons to apply for the programmes offered by Bergzicht Training and Development despite their academic or financial background. She also stresses the importance of soaking everything in and learning as much as possible when enrolled at the institution.

“In the next five years I see myself as a head chef in my own restaurant so that I will be able to open up job opportunities to the people in my community. It might seem like a dream now but in due time it will happen.”

Photo: Taryn Baadjies is working as a Cook and Kitchen Assistant at the Muratie Farm Kitchen at the Muratie Wine Estate. Here she is with Kim Melck from the estate.