My name is Ralph Gottschalk. I am the chef, owner and principal of SAACA, South African Academy of Culinary Arts, here in the beautiful and friendly city of Port Elizabeth in South Africa. You have landed here on our new homepage because you are interested in studying Culinary and/or Pastry Arts here with us or you may even have already applied for next year’s intake. Whatever may be the case for you as an individual, I would appreciate if you would take the time to read through this letter.

Everything you’ll read in this letter comes from my heart and is 100% honestly based on my past experience as a chef working on 4 continents, for some of the best hotels in the world and from opening and running the South African Academy of Culinary Arts 6 years ago.

So, where to start? First of all, I am humbled and honored by the sheer fact that you are considering to start your culinary career here with us at SAACA. This by no means an easy decision, not only because it requires your time and financial investment, but most importantly it would prepare you for what lies ahead, or better said what could lie ahead. To be a part of someone’s life is a great privilege and one I do not take lightly.

My past experience and achievements, which I have worked for and which I still work for, you will be able to find in the attached CV. In a nutshell, I have been a chef since the age of 15. I have worked all over the world and can call many chefs around the world my friends and even family. I am proud of what I have achieved due to hard work, but also because I had the privilege to meet the right people who have opened many doors for me and would look out for me, that chef whom I would stay in contact with for many years, knowing that he is there for me any time that I would need for advice or guidance.

Let’s face it, in over 30 years of working, I only applied once for a job, all others I got because my ex chefs believed in me and remembered me for what I stand for.

I opened SAACA in 2013. I am still involved with international events, having been involved with the FIFA World Cup in Russia, Brazil, South Africa, Olympic Games and other international consulting engagements. I have just returned from the Rugby World Cup in Japan. On our blog you will find some fun picture of this fantastic event.

In the later part of my career I spent quite a lot of money and time to do continuing my education with Sugar Artists in Switzerland, Cake Artist in the USA, and many more. I always enjoyed my time in these schools because there was the perfect marriage of lecturers who wanted to share their knowledge and students who were all hungry to learn. That experience inspired me to open a school. To be there and to help young aspiring chefs on their way, to train, teach and guide them, to be there for them long after they have left school, I want to be a part of their career, for life if possible. This is very important to me. At the end of the day, I fully understand that my CV and experience alone is a great way of advertising my school and to try and persuade you to come to SAACA, but the fact remains that my student’s experiences after leaving us, will be the real proof for what we teach here at SAACA.

My school is small, and many times when speaking to parents and student’s I would have said that, “ No, we do not have a long brick layered drive way up to the school and a huge 2 story building with copper pots and many shiny tables, what we have is much more; it is passion and knowledge. We do not have colorful brochures, a marketing team and a call center to persuade you to come to our school. What we have is us and our past student’s.

In the past 6 years we had an array of wonderful student’s. Yes of course, some were smarter than others, but I have always believed that each person has his or her own talents which need to be discovered first and then nurtured. Just to give one example, once we had a student whose parents really did not believe that their son would make it. Today Jeandre is working at one of the most prestigious hotels in the Middle East.

Of course SAACA is a business, but it would mean the world to me to one day to receive a call from you, anytime of the day or night, to tell me that what I have told you was right and that one day you could work for Gordon Ramsey if that is your dream. This exactly happened to an ex-student of ours, Coalin Finn. Not only did he go to work for Gordon Ramsay in the UK, but he has also developed into a really good chef in his own right. He recently visited me with his wife and I could not be more proud. At the time of writing this he just moved from working as Head Chef for Windsor in the UK to Ireland for a new adventure. Check him out on Facebook under Coalin Finn. I am sure that neither Coalin nor Jeandre Jeandre Peters would mind if you ask them a few questions about SAACA.

I always said that there are 3 questions I would ask if I would want to do what you plan to do, 3 questions whose answers would let me decide where I would like to go and study.


At SAACA we make sure that all of our lecturers have sufficient experience to teach you what you need to know to succeed once you have completed your studies with us. I have seen schools where they have lecturers that have 3 years’ experience, meaning that if they would teach you all they know, you will get 3 years of experience. Trust me, you will need more than that.

In addition to our head lecturer, we have also engaged the service of other leading chefs as guest lecturers for the coming year. Chefs which are employed elsewhere but because they are my friends and also care about you, the chef of tomorrow, will come and teach specialized subjects at SAACA.

We will have the honor to welcome Chef Jonathan, the Executive chef at the St Francis Links, to SAACA. He has varied extensive experience and has worked under Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck in the UK. We also have plans to include Asian specialty chefs for sushi and Japanese, Indian chefs and more. The more you learn from experienced chefs, the better.

Here a few words from our wonderful head lecturer Erika Grebe:

When I started studying for my career as a chef more than 15 years ago, I had absolutely no idea how amazing this journey would be. I have had the immense privilege to travel and work at very exclusive and remote places, meet royalty, Hollywood stars, F1 racers, politicians and many more.

I have been blessed to work with renowned chefs and mentors who invested their time and effort into my growth. I have learned to work hard. VERY hard. I have learned to be honest, to be open to learn and make mistakes and to (build a network that spans the world) make contacts.

These skills have been essential to all areas of my life. This industry is so rewarding and fulfilling. And because of this, I am very passionate to teach, equip and prepare the chefs of tomorrow for their own successful career.

I know that by entrusting us at SAACA with your culinary education, you will be way ahead of of the game and that a solid foundation like what we offer here at SAACA should not be taken for granted or be thought of as the norm.

I am extremely proud of what we do here and to be associated with SAACA and Ralph, and I look forward to welcoming you and being a part of your story.


There are schools which have only one day practical in the week, the rest is theory. Whenever you are visiting a school you contemplate to go to study at, ask this question.

At SAACA our focus is on teaching you to be a chef, teaching you Culinary and/or Pastry Arts. Yes of course there are some theory which is really important, but in the end of the day we do not sit in class and read in books together or spend days working on your portfolios, this can all be done at home in your own time. Here we do 90% practical so that when you leave here you don’t just know how to be a chef, you are one.

We have all the equipment and tools we need to teach you properly. At SAACA it is also important for us to move with time and trends, meaning that we also have Sous-Vide, Thermomix, Molecular and other modern equipment and tools. We have a fully equipped chocolate room and even a fully equipped bakery where you will also learn how to work with big equipment like dough sheeters, convection and deck ovens, etc.

We are also currently working on the opportunity to have our own full time venue where we can run POP UP Restaurants and do events which will further expand your experience.

We are accredited with Highfield UK, the United Kingdoms Number 1 Accreditation Company. We are very proud to be associated with this company as one of their training providers. They just received the First Prize, please see attached info on Highfield. This means that your diploma you will receive after your studies is recognized globally and is accredited by one of the best, if not the best Accreditation company in the world.

In addition we are accredited by QCTO South Africa.We are also registered with DHET, which enables us to welcome foreign student’s to South Africa and obtain a student visa to live and study here with us at SAACA.

SAACA has been selected to represent South Africa for the 4th year in a row at the 2020 Culinary Student Olympiads in India, the biggest event of its kind in the world.

Last February our student Matthew Potgieter won the Plate Medal, a great achievement. He just signed with “Enclume”, the second best and a 2 Michelin starred restaurant in the United Kingdom.

At SAACA we have and continue to build relationships with hotels and hotel companies to offer our student’s great opportunities to do their internship, practical training and even to get employment. Currently the companies we have relationships with and where ex-student’s from SAACA arecurrently working and doing their internships are:

South Africa

Shamwari Game Reserve

St Francis Links


The Test Kitchen

Pot Luck

La Petit Colombe

The 12 Apostels

Inzolo Lodge

Muse Restaurant Port Elizabeth

Ginger Restaurant Port Elizabeth

The Grande Roche, Stellenbosch


The Langham Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Jockey Club

Anantara Hotel Group

The Sheraton Dubai Creek

The Jumeirah Hotel Group Dubai

The Ritz-Carlton, Al Bussan Palace Hotel, Muscat, Oman

The Marriott Marquis Dubai

Paramount Hotel Dubai

Moevenpick Hotels Africa, Middle East and Asia

Gordon Ramsay London

The Windsor, UK

Enclume, UK


The most important question to ask is, what are they going to teach me? Is it recognized nationally, internationally? Am I’m able to find employment with the chosen qualification? Is the course basic or what am I’m going to learn? At SAACA we strive to offer something for everybody. We have learned that not everybody wish to work internationally and require

accreditation that will give them recognition and the right accreditation to be employed locally in South Africa. Others wish internationally for 5 star hotels and restaurants around the globe. There is a suitable path to give you the best chance of realizing your goals and dreams here at SAACA.

We offer the following accreditations

1. Diploma in Culinary Arts

This qualification also includes a Food Safety Certificate and is recognized worldwide within the industry. This course will enable you to find employment overseas. This course takes place over 12 month. Please email us for the full curriculum of this course.

2. Diploma in Pastry Arts

This qualification also includes a Food Safety Certificate and is recognized worldwide within the industry. This course will enable you to find employment overseas. This course takes place over 12 month. Please email us for the full curriculum of this course.

3. The Grande Diploma

This course includes both of our diploma courses, Culinary and Pastry Arts. With This course you will have the best chances to find employment within high caliber restaurants and hotels. We have learned at SAACA in the past years that students who have studied both subjects have a 100% record in finding employment overseas. The length of the course is 12 month.

I fully understand that it is important for anybody to know what the fees are. However, please do not make your decision on where you would like to study based on the fees alone. I also understand that foreign students will also have to budget for accommodation for example. Please have a look at the attached fee document for 2019. Please note that those fees include everything. You will only need to purchase a pair of kitchen shoes. All other, uniform, knife set, accreditation and registration fees, etc are included for the entire year. The only additional cost will be for an air ticket or travel to your place of internship after you have qualified with us.

Please do your homework, compare our fees with those of other schools, compare our practical work with theirs and compare their experience with ours. Above all compare our chefs achievements and success with theirs and base your decision on that.

I have seen students pay for a one year course at other schools where after 6 monththey are placed to work Supermarket bakery and I have even heard of students doing internships in food trucks. Really? You pay all that money to become an unpaid laborer, learning about supermarket patisserie and bakery. As I said, please do your homework.

Our fees are very competitive and we have always strived to offer the best education for the best possible course fees. We also have connections to banks where you can apply for a student loan if required. Unfortunately at this point we are not able to offer any bursaries.

For foreign students we will provide all the documents needed to apply for a student visa at the South African Consulate in your country of residence.

We do not have personal accommodation for you but we do have relationships and connections with establishments where you will be able to rent a room within a safe environment for the time you will spend here. For more info on this, please contact me.

In closing, I would like to repeat that we would be honored to play a tiny, but so important part in the beginning of your career in the culinary and or pastry world. A very rewarding world. Yes, you will have to work, but this profession will open many doors for you, allow you to make great friends and see the world for free if you desire to do so. However, to be able to do this, you need a solid foundation and base that you can build your future on. And this is exactly what we provide.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or would like any additional information. It would be a pleasure to meet with you, and or your parent if you have any questions or would like to visit us.

Thank you very much for your time to reading this. Please read through all the attachments and I am sure that you will find that SAACA is the perfect choice for you to study and to have a successful start to your career.

With culinary regards and best wishes,

Ralph Gottschalk

Principal, Chef & Owner


South African Academy of Culinary Arts South African Academy of Culinary Arts