working for the unemployed

Taking the Heat into the Kitchen – Brian Mtiya and Nonkoliseko Mgwatya

nonko-and-brian-riverside-lodge“When John White lost one of his kitchen staff at the Riverside Manor Retirement Village early in 2010, he turned to DreamWorker for urgent help. “People who are employed by us need to be caring, compassionate and have a desire to work for the elderly” he explained to DreamWorker office manager, Tania Sisam. “The elderly have special dietary needs and special health needs, which must be handled sensitively.”

John decided to take two people from DreamWorker on a week’s trial in the kitchen. Brian Mtiya had worked previously as a chef for VIP catering. Nonkoliseko (known as Nonko at Riverside) had been a chef at Walter Sisulu University, having completed her diploma in Hospitality there.

Lady Luck was on Brian and Nonko’s side because John first employed Brian (leaving Nonko in tears to DreamWorker, such was her level of disappointment!), but by the end of January, she too had been employed. Both were utterly delighted. John completes the story. “I decided to employ them both as I knew our Catering Supervisor was going on maternity leave. Brian and Nonko complement one another beautifully and they were about to be thrown into the deep end. Brian had the work experience, but Nonko had tons of knowledge to share from her studies at Walter Sisulu. And what a team they have proved to be! I have watched how they have grown and come into their own over the past few months. The residents have had nothing but good things to say about our two new chefs!”

Brian grins under his head chef’s hat and shares. “I am loving making desserts, which I never did before. And the old people are lovely. I think of them all as my own mothers and fathers. Helping them gives me so much pleasure. My dream is to have my own catering business one day, maybe caring for old people just like these, my new family! For now, I am really happy doing what I am doing.”

Nonko adds her version. “I really like to help people, to be kind and nice to them. I am most interested in learning how to cater for people with special needs, with special health issues. I would still love to work in a very big hospitality business one day. Right now I am learning how to work in a team with my peers and I will just keep on learning every day. Me, I am also very, very happy that I got this job!”