WATCH | Why this top chef stopped plating food and started dishing out a legacy

Golden flames billow atop the stove. The cast iron pan heats up and the fragrance of frying onions fills the room.

No matter what Jackie Cameron creates, she’s always setting a masterpiece in motion. One of South Africa’s most acclaimed chefs, she’s perfected every trick in the trade.

But after 12 years in the culinary industry, Cameron realised she was in the kitchen for a different reason.

“What was getting me up in the mornings was not sending out a beautiful plate of food,” Cameron says. “It started becoming about my staff and seeing their upliftment.”

While the food industry is competitive, she dreamt of leading other chefs to success. So instead of just plating meals, Cameron focused on serving people skills too.

With an Advanced Diploma in Teaching, Training, and Assessing Learning from City & Guilds in London, Cameron was prepped to start a new path.

In 2015, she opened the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine in the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal midlands. Under her mentorship, budding South African chefs spend 18 months earning an internationally recognised certification.

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Cameron restricts her intake to 15 people per course to provide individual guidance. For her dedication, she received the title of Food Educator at the 2019 FOOD XX Symposium and Awards.

Yet passing on the acclaim to students is what matters most. “It’s now about them going out into the industry and winning,” Cameron says. “A meal can be wonderful but a legacy tastes much sweeter.”

Photos by Karen Edwards were used in the creation of this film.