Three Capsicum Culinary Studio students have won top awards in this year’s Showcook Reaching for Young Stars competition, judged by Jocelyn Myers Adams, Debbie Hall, Elsa van der Nest, Lorraine Meaney, Craig Hibbert and Alexandre Barrière Izard, which took place recently, with one earning internships in both France and the US. The three Capsicum’s winners were: Huwitt Strydom, Ryan Flandorp and Muhammed Mollagee.

Now in its 16th year, the annual cooking contest fosters and promotes entrepreneurship among Western Cape culinary students, demonstrating their abilities and ultimately earning recognition leading to career advancement beyond graduation.

Third-year student Huwitt Strydom was awarded the top spot in the Hot Chefs category. Along with several finalists from a number of culinary schools, the 22-year old Kraaifontein resident, was tasked with preparing a canapé, a mushroom starter and a main course featuring lamb bacon. He won a range of prizes including a three month internship at a top hotel in Paris, with a monthly allowance, accommodation and full board included, as well as a five-month working experience stay at Winslow’s Tavern in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the US with Chef Patrons Phillip & Tracey Hunt. On his return from France and America, Strydom will take up a three week internship at the 5-star Cape Grace hotel in the V&A Waterfront.

Ryan Flandorp (26) from the Southern Suburbs, who placed first in the KitchenAid Africa Young Star Bio-Wheat Baker of the Year, won a three week internship at Cape Grace as well as a stand mixer from Kitchen Aid, a kitchen scale and a plant-based recipe book, after his sourdough bread, brioche and brown health bread was judged the best.

Twenty-year-old, Bo-Kaap resident Muhammed Mollagee took top honours for Patisserie Kitchen Excellence (Kitchen Hygiene and Organisation) and received a training course from June Steenekamp of Didactix for the Level 3 Food Safety for Catering Qualification, which is designed to assist learners who wish to progress to higher or supervisory level within a food catering business. Julietta e Silva Overmeyer and Cody Dodgen were the judges for this section.

Charl Botha, Mohammad Mollagee, Ryan Flandorp, Huwitt Strydom

All the winners also received top quality kitchen knives, artisan mixers, ceramics, bakeware and gadgets and utensils.

Says Capsicum’s Cape Town campus lecturer and team mentor Charl Botha: “We are extremely proud of Huwitt, Ryan and Muhammad as well as our other two students who competed this year (Tristan Sutton in the Beverage division and Zoë van Zyl in the Barista section). The competition was tough, but they all worked extremely hard, and their wins were richly deserved.”

Organised by, in collaboration with culinary expert Annette Kesler, Reaching for the Young Stars not only celebrates culinary excellence but also focuses on the holistic development of young professionals.

Co-organiser Chania Morritt-Smith of said: “The winners of the Cape Grace Reaching For Young Stars awards will soon embark on a transformative journey to the United States and France for international mentorship programmes. This opportunity is expected to be life changing.”

Over the years the programme has witnessed numerous students successfully carve out a place for themselves in the hospitality industry, with many rising to notable prominence, spearheading innovation and establishing new benchmarks within this demanding field.