Bredasdorp resident Bea-Marie Visser graduated as Top Academic Achiever 2020 from The Private Hotel School (TPHS) in Stellenbosch earlier this year but was denied the opportunity of a graduation ceremony that would have taken place in March, due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
“But,” says Visser, “I have an amazing family who organised a beautiful home-graduation for me which felt very official thanks to my grandmothers’ academic apparel from 1961!”
The twenty-four-year-old alumnus is currently back home in Bredasdorp and is involved in the family business, mainly focusing on project administration. “I also bake on the sideline as a creative outlet,” she says.
Visser completed the school’s Higher and Advanced Certificates in Hospitality Management as well as Short Courses in Professional Cooking and Baking in June last year and immediately took up a three-month internship at Camp Kuzuma in Botswana. The eco-certified tented camp, located between the Chobe and Hwange National Parks, is in the Kazuma Forest Reserve and forms part of one of the biggest elephant migratory corridors.
“It was a beautiful experience,” says Visser. “I spent equal time in the kitchen and front of house, basically helping and learning wherever and whenever I could.”
Following her time at Camp Kuzuma, Visser travelled to the Netherlands and while there met up with one of her ex-classmates.
“We reminisced about our good times together, had quite a few laughs about quirky experiences shared, but also agreed that we had never in our lives worked as physically hard as we did when we were at TPHS. Carrying tables and chairs up to the attic, polishing numerous glasses and cutlery, setting up the restaurant for service just to clear and set it again. Working long hours in shoes and sometimes conditions that were extremely uncomfortable. Basically, being out of our comfort zone 95% of the time.”
“But it was impossible to mention all the above without realising how much our time at TPHS taught us and how much it shaped our characters. The school did not just prepare us for the hospitality industry, it prepared us for life and taught us what it takes to finish a task with excellence.”
So what made Visser choose TPHS? “I was looking for a hospitality institution that focused both on the management and culinary aspect of the industry. And they had to be passionate about both. TPHS was ultimately the best fit for me. I decided to study in the hospitality direction because I realised that I found immense pleasure in seeing people enjoy themselves and having a good time. I wanted to be a part of making someone feel special on their birthday, wedding day, anniversary, first holiday abroad, the list goes on and on.
Visser admits that although she enjoys working for the family company she is looking forward to getting back in the hospitality game and lets on that her family has a few opportunities to grow in the hospitality industry which will hopefully be a reality in five years’ time. In the meantime, she is planning a family get together when lockdown ends.
“We are a big family who only live about 30 minutes away from each other, but we have not spent time together for three months. I do not want us to take quality time together for granted ever again.”
Visser is also making it a priority to go to De Hoop Nature Reserve to spend time in nature with friends as well as visit a good bakery and have a “proper slice of cake – that I didn’t bake myself – to celebrate my birthday which was on 1 May.”
In the meantime, Visser shares her recipe for a Cappuccino Buttermilk Cake that she whipped up for her mother on Mother’s Day. Visser’s creation has a mocha ganache filling and chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream and was topped with flowers from her mother’s garden, a teacup from her collection and mini macarons.
Cappuccino Buttermilk Cake
- 345g cake flour
- 410gcaster sugar
- 20ml baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- 225g butter
- 240ml buttermilk
- 5ml vanilla essence
- 15gr coffee powder
- 5 eggs
- Preheat oven to 170°C and prepare cake tins.
- Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar. With the mixer running on low speed, add the cold butter one piece at a time. Beat until all of the butter is incorporated (about 3 minutes). The mixture should have a fine crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
- In a medium measuring cup with a spout, combine half the buttermilk, vanilla essence and coffee powder. In a separate measuring cup, gently whisk the eggs and remaining buttermilk.
- Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the vanilla mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the egg mixture. Beat for 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Fold the batter once or twice to ensure everything has been incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
- Bake the layers till done. Let the cake layers cool in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the sides of the cakes and carefully turn them out onto wire racks. Peel off the paper liners and let cool completely.
- The cake layers will keep wrapped tightly in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days.
For the Mocha Ganache
- 350g chocolate chips
- 175g cream
- 5ml coffee powder
- Put the chocolate chips in a large bowl.
- Bring the heavy cream and coffee powder to a boil, then pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes then whisk until smooth.
- Place the chocolate ganache in the fridge until completely cool and firm (1-2 hours).
For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 392g egg white
- 700g granulated sugar
- 910g butter
- vanilla oil
- Thoroughly wash and dry the bowl of an electric mixer to remove any trace of grease and add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl.
- Place over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, whisking gently and constantly until the temperature reaches 70°c. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep going until the sugar completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- Transfer the bowl to your mixer set up with the whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick and glossy and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm to the touch.
- Switch over to the paddle attachment and with mixer on low speed add the cool butter cubes one at a time until incorporated. Beat until the mixture has reached a silky smooth texture. If it curdles, keep mixing and it will become smooth.
- Add the vanilla and continue to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Add as much cocoa as you want. Depending on the colour and flavour.