Jackie Cameron – owner of Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine
She is a great chef, an author, a designer but most of all a truly wonderful teacher, who loves to share her knowledge with young chefs.
In April 2015 Jackie Cameron started to realize her dream to tutor aspiring chefs. She has worked as a chef in top restaurants around the world. Jackie Cameron was named one of Africa’s top 100 inspiring and aspiring leaders.
Jackie, in April 2015 as a top chef you opened your food-and-wine school. How long has this been a dream of yours? And could you describe the first steps to build up your own school?
I can not remember life without thinking about my school. Before opening we had been working on this for about 15 years. My School license took many years, I was allowed to have a school, initially, without a restaurant. It only took me one year to get my liquor license and 8 years to get my restaurant license. Nothing has come quickly to me especially because I wanted to do this all by myself. With every cent I made I put this to purchasing something for my ‘school.’ I had rooms filled of chandeliers, green marble tiles, leather chairs and so on. I then was lucky enough to get a loan from Mondi to buy my dream-kitchens through CULINARY equipment. My school is in our family home, which my folks build in 1994.
Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine offers an 18-month intensive course with a maximum intake of 15 students. The personal attention your students are getting is high. How important do you think it is for your students to work and learn in small groups?
I do most of the lectures and am with my students nearly every hour of every day. The classes are small because this is all I can handle, I am pedantic about being on time, handing in projects on time, keeping to ones word, not complaining, putting ones head down, and working, I am installing this throughout the course. The personal attention can not be more intense than it is presently. I know what the industry requires and demands and I want my students to succeed in this industry and go on and make me proud.
Building confidence is one important lesson you can teach upcoming chefs. Therefore, a restaurant within your cooking school is serving as a place for character building and education. Does this also prepare for this hardworking and tough industry?
Yes, it is all preparations for the students for when they get into the industry. Over the year that the students are here they do about 40 functions each-the last 5 months of the course the students are in the industry, doing their workplace placement. My course is designed around a restaurant of today and what chefs need and require.
Becoming a chef is also about passion and discipline. Why do you think Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine is the right place to start? And what advice can you give especially young chefs?
So so true-passion and discipline! I am a top chef in the country and I have won every cheffing competition possible, it is now for me to pass my knowledge onto like-minded students and allow them to shine and make me proud. Many of the top-chefs in the country are my good friends so I have to send out quality, otherwise this will be very embarrassing. Young chefs-don’t focus on money focus on getting experience, the right kind of experience-work your ass’ off and make it your aim to impress-impress everyone with dam-hard work and leading by example.
Was there any point in your career where you start struggling with your passion for cooking?
Never, quite the opposite I just wish there were more hours in the day.
Your list of achievements is what many chefs dream of accomplishing. Additionally, you are writing cookbooks and columns, lecturing students and even designing chef clothing. What are your plans for the future? What would you like to achieve in the future?
I am most excited of seeing how my students do in the industry from year-to-year. This is what drives me- I really love seeing the development and growth in others. In the future there is just soooooooooo much I want to do and achieve.
Jackie, if I am not wrong, your culinary career has also taken you to Germany. What differences in eating culture, in work culture between South Africa and Germany you could observe? And is there any German food you are missing and cannot find in South Africa?
I have been lucky enough to visit Germany often. The world has become so small to be honest but the stunning white asparagus in spring in Germany is a treat. And all the pork-rich and fatty items in winter is perfect to warm one up. I have never had a snitzel in South Africa as great as in Germany-must be the Germany beer that accompanies it.
There is a trend in the gastronomy – regional, seasonal. Why do you think it is important to stay in close touch to your local producers and suppliers?
It just makes sense to me. Supporting local and using seasonal is key to delicious, wholesome food that has not only a story but a heart.
Great! Could you present one of your recipe so our users can cook a typical South African dish?
I am going to try it myself. Thank you very much, Jackie! You are truly an inspiring person!
For more information about Jackie Cameron and Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine go visit: