International work experience: South African culinary student's adventures in London

Mashudu Masinya recently had the opportunity of a lifetime.

Lucky in front of Big Ben

The culinary student, better known as Lucky, got to travel from South Africa to London for the ultimate work experience.

He spent three weeks in some of the top culinary and catering establishments in England, including the Ritz. He even prepared food for the Brit Awards. But it’s only the start of great things for Lucky.

How did Lucky secure the work experience placements?

Lucky first met the City & Guilds Group Management Board at a dinner catered by Johannesburg Culinary and Pastry, where he is studying a Level 2 Diploma in Patisserie at the JHB Culinary & Pastry School (JCPS).

The Board members were so impressed with JCPS learners’ exquisite catering skills that they offered a UK work experience placement to one of them.

With a hunger for learning new techniques, and an ambition to excel as a Chef, JCPS’s principal Jarlyne Joel selected Lucky for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

img width="600" height="400" alt="Lucky preparing treats" src="/-/media/cgg-website/images/whats-happening/lucky2-jpg.ashx?la=en" width="600" height="400" />

Lucky’s experience

Keen to ensure that Lucky had the best possible experience in England, the Board turned to celebrity chef Brian Turner, a City & Guilds Fellow, who arranged for Lucky to work as a patisserie chef for three of the UK’s leading restaurant establishments:

  • Raymond Blanc’s ‘Le Manior aux Quat’saissons’
  • Claire Clark’s ‘Pretty Sweet’
  • The Ritz, London with John Lewis

He was able to jump in right from day one and gain some incredible industry contacts.

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Lucky’s first placement was at the luxury Oxford restaurant ‘Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons’.

High-end pear dessert

In addition to learning the rules of their kitchen, he said he learned the importance of having great colleagues.

‘Everyone was so friendly,’ Lucky remarked. ‘The pastry staff became like a family to me, taking me in and showing me that working as a team is very important.’

Pretty Sweet

His second week was spent at the ‘Pretty Sweet’ catering company, where he learned from high-end pastry chef Claire Clark. Lucky said his time there was unforgettable, and says, ‘Claire’s made of titanium.’ He’s keen to work with her again at some point in the future, and learned from her that you get out what you put in.

Lucky with 'Pretty Sweet' owner

It was during this time that he got to work on the Brit Awards catering team – an experience he describes as unbelievable.  ‘I never thought I’d be able to take my passion to the Brit Awards,’ he said. ‘Not only did I get to serve celebrities, I got to talk to them too. Amazing!’

Photo of swirly drop confectionary

The Ritz

His final week, Lucky worked at the Ritz where he crafted petit fours. He said every second was critical, and it taught him the importance of why everything needs to be done in a certain way.

Lucky preparing dessert

He thinks his time there will continue to serve him well. ‘I’ve made some lifelong friends who have taught me so much,’ says Lucky. ‘I’m so grateful they opened their doors to me.’

The future

Though Lucky has returned to South Africa, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of coming back some day.

‘I would love to pursue a career in the UK,’ he said. ‘I wouldn’t hesitate to take up an opportunity here, as it really launched my career and I’m going to grab opportunities with both hands.’

‘This has been the best experience I’ve ever had, and I got to meet Brian Turner who’s helped me secure these work placements. Talk about lucky!’

Once Lucky finishes his course, he will specialise as a chocolatier – making him one of the first qualified chocolatiers in South Africa.