The middle class in Uganda is expanding. So too is the country’s tourism industry. The growth of restaurants and high-end hotels is evidence that both foreigners and Ugandans are spending money.
But the owners of these businesses have often had to turn to other countries to find executive chefs. The reason: a lack of well-trained chefs and other help at Ugandan eateries. Slowly but surely, this is changing.
Uganda has a problem not normally found in a low-income country. It has a shortage of local chefs. In recent years, the number of restaurants and tourism-related businesses has risen. As a result, the demand for well-trained cooks and other kitchen help has grown. But experienced chefs are difficult to find. Jean Byamugisha is with the Uganda Hotel Owners Association.
“The biggest challenge has been capacity building. People really need a lot of training, especially now that we are competing at East African level.”
To meet the need, many restaurants have turned to neighboring countries for help. Enock Alumasi is from Kenya. He saw that Uganda had a lack of top chefs. So he helped launch the Impact Chef’s Academy in 2013. The academy is the only school in Uganda that offers a full training program for chefs. It offers a number of programs -- starting with one-week courses for those who already have a career in the restaurant industry, to a year-long training program.
One recent day, several students were learning the different ways to fry an egg. This may sound like something that comes naturally to a chef. But some workers have never cooked an egg before.
Brian Kazibe has worked as a chef. He says some trainees learn about five different areas of restaurant operations over three months. “By the time they get to the kitchen,” he says, “they are only remaining for two or three weeks, which is not really enough for them.”
The Impact Chef’s Academy has trained more than 3,000 people in the past two years. Jean Byamugisha says the need is still growing.
“The impact is not yet felt. One week’s training for a chef is nothing. We need somebody who can come in two months, six months, nine months and train the chef and release somebody who can actually come to a hotel and prepare a meal that everybody will fall over themselves to pay for.”
Now that the academy has gotten a taste of success, it looks forward to expanding.
Serginho Roosblad reported on this story from Uganda. George Grow adapted it for Learning English.
Words in This Story
tourism – n. travel for recreational, religious, family or business purposes
executive – adj. relating to supervisory or leadership
chef – n. a cook who often is responsible for food preparation in a restaurant
low-income – adj. earning very little money; poor
capacity - adj. holding the most of something
challenge – n. a difficult problem or test
fry – v. to cook in far or oil