Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine
Hard work sets 15-year-old dream in motion
Jackie Cameron realised her dream to tutor aspiring chefs when her school of food and wine - based in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal - welcomed its first intake in April 2015.
Graduating in 2016 with nine out of a possible nine distinctions, these students are testament to the high standard demanded for this internationally-recognised, mentoring course that produces respected chefs - a cut above the rest. And, as guaranteed by the school, all graduates were placed in permanent positions. This was made possible because of the demand for leavers from the culinary institution. Apart from the distinctions, they – respectively - achieved top student for French culinary terminology and language; the Culinary Equipment Company Student of the Year award; the Waterford Estate Wine Award for Top Wine Student; the top mark ever achieved for a Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 2 course; the Deltrade Top Patisserie Practical Chef award. This gives the school a ‘full house’ of points achieved in various categories and sets a benchmark for the 14 students that make up the 2017 intake.
Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine offers an 18-month intensive, internationally-recognised course with a maximum intake of 15 students. “Hands-on” is Jackie's philosophy, and “don’t ever give up” her motto. The students work alongside her daily, and the school provides the opportunity to experience all things foodie in a safe and secure environment. Jackie believes there is more to food than working in a top restaurant - locally or internationally. “I’m enjoying sharing all that I have been fortunate to have learnt – and experienced - with the students,” she says, adding that her aim is to impart this knowledge, and to equip the students with the skills to 'go it alone' with confidence. She is ahead of the game on all levels as she guides students to create a balanced-and-healthy lifestyle in this crazy, but extremely-rewarding, industry.
Midlands born and raised, Jackie’s heart is in KwaZulu-Natal where, from 2002 until 2014, she filled the position of head chef at a local five-star boutique hotel. She achieved Level 3 IVQ Advanced Diploma in Teaching, Training and Assessing Learning, awarded by The City & Guilds of London Institute in 2010. In her mid-thirties, Jackie’s list of achievements is what many chefs dream of accomplishing.
After graduating from the Christina Martin School of Food and Wine in 2001 Jackie kneaded her career at Mount Grace Country House and Spa and she watched it rise as she reaped the rewards of her commitment to her career. It was under her guidance that the Hartford House restaurant - having achieved national Top 10 status four times and making number five restaurant in the country in 2013 - was mentioned regularly in magazines such as Food&Home, Taste, Eat Out, and House and Leisure. During Jackie’s 12-year tenure, the hotel achieved many other accolades including Top 10 Eat Out, American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme and People’s Choice awards. The latter was in the La Motte Restaurant of the Year competition. With her input, Hartford House’s wine list was presented with the Inspirational Award in the Top 100 SA Short List Wine List for 2013 Awards; Top 10 in the 2012 Eat Out/DStv Restaurants Awards as well as a Diamond Award for its 2012 and 2013 wine list, as recognised by Diner’s Club International.
After many years of being judged, Jackie now finds herself on the other side of the cooker. She was selected to judge the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards as well as the 2015 Galliova Awards.
In her personal capacity, Jackie has the distinction of being one of Victor Strugo’s “three favourite woman chefs”. She was voted by South African Tourism as one of the Top 10 Young South African Chefs, has appeared on TV programmes such as MasterChef SA, Top Billing, and with Justin Bonello in The Ultimate Braai Master. Jackie has been part of the Real Food Movement, is a Chaine des Rotisseure member, and is a proud SASSI Trailblazer chef.
Recognising her efforts, Independent Media recently named Jackie one of Africa’s top 100 inspiring and aspiring leaders. Labelled a ‘Trailblazer’, she was identified for “changing the game/leading the field at a local/international level”.
Her culinary career has taken her to Germany, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Australia, England, Dubai, Shanghai, Spain, Copenhagen, Denmark and America where she has represented South Africa at exhibitions, enjoyed work experiences, or - for the benefit of her career - experienced eating in restaurants such as Nobu, Le Gravoche, Fat Duck, Gordan Ramsay’s Hospital Road and River Café, Noma and El Bulli, The French Laundry, Per Se, Bochon Bistro, AD HOC, Le Bernadin and Jean Georges. She went on a trip to Thailand which was meant to be purely pleasure but resulted in a culinary extravaganza of all things unusual. She was also invited by S Pellegrino and Acqua Panna to represent South Africa at the Audi Chef’s Cup Südtirol 2014, in Alta Badia, where the display of culinary excellence attracts the leading personalities of national and international cuisine. Most recently she was invited to Al Faisaliah Hotel, A Rosewood Hotel-Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, where she cooked at the prestigious Globe Summit Series for a week. This meant cooking classes, lunches and eight-course dinners.
Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home (Penguin Random House South Africa) hit the shelves in May 2013 and in July the same year it achieved second-highest cookbook sold in the country status, as voted by Exclusive Books. At the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards it won Best Woman Chef Book in South Africa. Her second book Baking with Jackie Cameron, published by Struik Lifestyle, an imprint of Penguin Random House South Africa, was received with as much enthusiasm at a sell-out launch in August 2016; and the 2017 Gourmand Awards jury announced that the book was judged national winner in the pastry category. It goes forward into the best in the world contest with the results being announced in May 2017.
In her endeavour to share the knowledge she has acquired, Jackie writes a monthly column for The Witness newspaper as well as a column in Chef! magazine. Through her stories and her recipes, she encourages readers to experiment with food – and to enjoy culinary feasts, however simple.
Jackie leaves no stone unturned and she illustrated her diverse creative fair when she broke into the world of fashion, introducing her stylish Jackie Cameron chef's range. This is a chic alternative to conventional 'kitchen wear’.