The Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at the University of Pretoria recently partnered with the French embassy and well-known celebrity chef, Nataniël, to prepare a meal for invited guests to celebrate Goût de France on the Hatfield campus.
Annually, the French government celebrates Goût de France, an international event that acknowledges and promotes French food. On that particular day, chefs from around the world and embassies serve French-style dinners to the public in various world cities and make people aware of French culture, food and eating behaviour. This international event was inspired by Auguste Escoffier, who launched the "Dîners d'Épicure" (Epicurean Dinners) initiative from 1912.
According to Hennie Fisher, Consumer and Food Sciences lecturer at UP: “This cooking project is part of the module called culinary art for our final-year consumer and food sciences students. They get to learn all the aspects of event management, which includes meeting clients. As the department, we felt that our students need outside exposure, which is why we partnered with the French embassy, and we are excited and grateful that someone as creative and outgoing as celebrity chef, Nataniël, agreed to lend a hand and assist them with décor and the creation of the menu for their cooking project.”
Invited guests from different cultural backgrounds came in their numbers to enjoy the meal prepared by students and to celebrate Goût de France. Some of the attendees included the ambassador of France, Christophe Farnaud.
France ambassador, Christophe Farnaud and Students during the event.
Final-year consumer and food sciences student, Zandile Finxa, said: “It is nerve-wracking, but I am looking forward to this event, I have a responsibility of making sure that the food is well prepared, and I am grateful to have worked with Nataniël who assisted us in balancing the menu. This event is all about good food and French cuisine. It is important for our French visitors to see that we do interpret their heritage in a good way.”
Nataniël indicated that it is important for students to familiarise themselves with stress-levels in the kitchen and they need to learn the basics of how to run a restaurant while still studying. Events like these prepare them for what lies ahead of what their daily career lives will be like.
Fisher said the event was a success. There was good participation between students and Nataniël in the kitchen. “Even though this event was headed by students, our guests, as well the French ambassador, enjoyed the meal.”