29 Years into his culinary career, Sun City’s General Manager of Food and Beverage, Bruce McKay, has been formally inducted into the prestigious South African Academy of Chefs – a privilege reserved for chefs who have devoted no less than two decades to their profession.
Criteria for selection is extensive and rigorous, and McKay was nominated by one of South Africa’s most respected chefs, Dr Billy Gallagher, an honorary life president of both the South African Chefs Association (SACA) and the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
Dr Gallagher says: “Bruce and I have worked together for 25 years, both in a personal and professional capacity. During this time, we have worked towards building SACA’s membership and through his endeavours, opened a branch in Bloemfontein. He has been a great servant to the association always acting for the best interests of SACA and with impeccable professionalism. He has spent his entire career in the field of food and beverage holding senior positions in leading South African businesses. He has well established culinary credentials and has also been instrumental in training many young South African hospitality industry employees and will be an asset to the Academy of Chefs in furthering its aims and ideals.”
McKay, who has been a member of SACA for over 25 years, is a qualified national executive head chef, award-winning hotel manager, food columnist and proficient course designer and trainer in hospitality industry management. He joined Sun City as the General Manager of Hotel and Food and Beverage Operations, overseeing the 5-star Cascades hotel, 4-star Sun City Hotel, 3-star Cabanas hotel, which is approximately 1232 rooms as well as all food and beverage outlets at the resort.
He later took the position of General Manager of Food and Beverage, a demanding role that encompasses the entire food and beverage function at Sun City, including The Palace a 5-star luxury hotel, outlets at the Valley of Waves, the independent restaurants in the resort as well as concessionaires.
McKay plays an instrumental role in the ambitious revitalisation of Sun City’s food and beverage offering and was responsible for overseeing the successful opening of new restaurants such as Legends, The Brew Monkey and Mugg & Bean as well as the various other refurbished outlets within the resort.
Listing lack of qualified and appropriately skilled people as one of the main challenges affecting the hospitality industry, McKay will no doubt revel in the opportunities which will come with being part of the Academy of Chefs, where he can utilise his culinary skills to develop emerging talent as well as help provide nourishment for those in need.
The Academy of Chefs, the honour society of SACA, which has a primary goal to promote interaction amongst members nationally and demonstrate the highest standards of professionalism in the organisation, society and industry. The academy also serves to create and promote programmes that benefit young chefs or soon to be chefs, passing on the skills, training and expertise of its members.
McKay, a married father of two daughters, says his family has played an invaluable and supportive role as he has built his successful career for almost three decades.
“Family is a very important part of keeping your life balanced. It is very difficult to be in the hospitality industry and have a successful family life with the long working hours, but I am fortunate to have the best family ever. They have supported me throughout my career,” he says.
Though highly qualified and experienced, McKay remains humble enough to admit that he still has trouble frying an egg and believes that nobody is ever too old or skilled to learn more.
“Never stop learning and always stay passionate about what you do. Put your attitude in your pocket, get on with the job, listen, respect others, learn with your eyes never give up and you will succeed,” is his advice to young people pursuing a career in the dynamic and exciting but often stressful and demanding hospitality industry.
Having travelled to 252 cities in 22 different countries, he lists Austria and Switzerland as amongst his favourites. However, he is true to his roots.
"I love South Africa for the sheer vibrancy of its culture and, of course, our fantastic cuisine."
As Sun City enters its new era, it seems that McKay is in the right place at the helm of its food and beverage.
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