Kigali, September 19,2023 – In an impressive display of culinary expertise and innovation, students from Esther’s Aid participated in their final practical exam. The event took place in the School’s professional kitchen, where a distinguished panel of judges, including renowned chefs from various hotels in Rwanda and special guests, gathered to evaluate the students’ talents.
Speaking to TOP AFRICA NEWS, Ms. Keelin-Vernon, the advisor at Esther’s Aid, said, “Today is very exciting because it marks the end of the journey for many interns and students who have attended Esther’s Aid School.”
She explained that “Their learning is complete with a final exam.”
“Today they are cooking for VIP chefs. The VIP chefs come in and they mark and grade different criteria of the students so that the students can then get a completion certificate and go and look for a great job to help them on their career path.”, Ms. Keelin said.
Ms. Keelin-Vernon represented Ms. Clare Effiong, Founder and the International Director of Esther’s Aid who is abroad for fundraising purpose
“It’s really exciting and all the students who have been interns from big hotels around Kigali, they have an opportunity to show their skills off to the chefs and impress them so that they can then get completion and move forward and find work.” She added.
The practical exam is an integral part of the curriculum at Esther’s Aid, a prestigious school renowned for its culinary arts program. This highly attended event not only tests the students’ technical abilities but also encourages them to unleash their creativity and passion for cooking.
Mr. Dushime David, one of the students who completed the internship testified that what they learn at Esther’s Aid are really responding to the expectations of the industry.
“I completed my internship at Four Points by Sheraton, where I spent three months working in various kitchens. Specifically, I was assigned to the cold section of the kitchen, where salads are prepared. This particular section requires strong skills, particularly in knife handling. One must be able to cut with precision and speed, as timeliness is crucial.” He said.
“We received training at school before starting our internship. We then worked in the hot section, where I gained valuable experience using ovens and cooking various dishes. I learned how to cook things for the appropriate amount of time, ensuring they were neither overcooked nor undercooked.” Mr. David stated.
“And then we went to the pastry class, which is more like chemistry. You have to mix a lot of ingredients and be precise. You can’t afford to miss any one ingredient because sometimes it’s not immediately noticeable. However, when you bake the pastries, they don’t turn out as expected. That was the challenge, but fortunately, we had enough time and great teachers who taught us about all those aspects.” He added.
From the experience, Mr. Dushime has realized that “In order to succeed in this field, one must possess patience, kindness, and attentiveness.”
“These qualities, among others, were instilled in us through Esther’s Aid School. Our teachers are highly skilled and provide comprehensive explanations, sharing their own experiences. Overall, the learning experience is exceptional and highly rewarding.” He added.
In addition to Mr. Dushime’s internship experience, Ms. Melissa Uwanyirigira, another student, also confirms that the internship was rewarding.
“I completed my internship at the Radisson Blue Hotel and Kigali Convention Center, which was a highly rewarding experience. I particularly enjoyed working in the housekeeping department and dedicated two and a half months to this department, albeit in two different sections.” She said.
“I also worked as a laundry attendant for a laundry service. I had the opportunity to do this job for a month, and it was truly an amazing experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this role, and I believe it will provide me with various opportunities due to obtaining a professional certificate. This certificate will enable me to seek employment anywhere in the world, granting me a significant advantage.” She added.
Ms. Uwanyiligira finds Esther’s Aid, an exceptional school because they treat them as their own.
“They provide us with everything we need and assist us in meeting our educational needs. Personally, culinary arts have been my passion since childhood, however, I did not have the opportunity to pursue it in secondary school. Despite having a bachelor’s degree in marketing, my desire for culinary arts was so strong that I sought out a school that could help me enhance my skills.” Uwanyiligira said.
“Someone introduced me to this school, and I decided to enroll. What I had hoped for is exactly what I have experienced at this school. Therefore, I can confidently say that Esther’s Aid is an excellent school. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning culinary arts.” She added.
Under the watchful eyes of the panel of esteemed judges, the students prepared a wide array of dishes that showcased their culinary skills. From delicate pastries to delicious foods, the aspiring chefs left no stone unturned in impressing the discerning taste buds of the panel.
Fred Ntare, a Chef at Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali and one of the judges said shortly after tasting the work of the fresh chiefs that Esther’s Aid is doing an amazing job.”
“We thank the directors and the students, the teachers as well, and all who are coordinating to make a success of this class. Actually, my basic idea is to come and support them to see what they’re doing. And I like the achievement they’re doing. The students are doing very well. They’ve shown more potential. They have the courage. They have the drive. I can tell they have the drive. I’ve seen what they’ve done in general. They have great potential. They are ready to go out there and come into the industry. I was impressed with the students who come from Radisson. I mentioned that it shows the way the industry is adapting the students and the young guys who are coming back to do the great things to this place. And we are looking forward that more students will be joining this place. And it’s a great place. Esther’s Aid, I would say, keep it up.” Ntare said.
Esther’s Aid is going through a transition of fundraising at the moment that will enable the school to move from the current small school, which is amazing in what it’s done.
According to the school Management, it is going to be the main college for producing wonderful chefs in Rwanda when this completion of the new building and the new facility occurs.