Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen launches online Innovation Academy

Michelin-star South African Chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen has launched the JAN Innovation Academy.

In partnership with local retailer Checkers, the academy aims to empower and educate individuals within the restaurant industry from entrepreneurs to chefs, the academy is home to several short and informative courses.

Jan Hendrik explains what inspired him to create the JAN Innovation Academy: “I had to figure a lot of things out as I went along, without having a blueprint or a manual – or someone to teach me the soft skills I needed. So, I failed at a lot of things. But I’ve had some great wins. I’ve learned a lot through this process that I can now, hopefully – through the JAN Innovation Academy – share with others – the ones who have the passion and creative energy to turn their dreams into something real.”

The JAN Innovation Academy

Officially launching on 14 September 2021, the JAN Innovation Academy kicked off with Restaurant Entrepreneurship as its first course on offer. Each month new courses will be available and will include topics such as Mental Resilience in the Workplace, Your Personal Brand Identity and Creative Thinking Through Food. The academy’s courses will be held virtually enabling students flexibility in their learning journey and they will be curated by Jan Hendrik and other experts in related industries.

The partnership between JAN Innovation Academy and Checkers will help establish relationships with sustainable suppliers and as a result, further contribute to future course development at the academy.

Willie Peters, General Manager: Marketing at Checkers elaborates on the impact that the partnership aims to have.

“Through our partnership with JAN Innovation Academy, Checkers hopes to encourage and inspire more people to learn about the food industry, and ultimately to become innovative entrepreneurs within this space. Not only do we share a love of food, but Jan Hendrik does not compromise on quality, and neither does Checkers. It, therefore, made sense to join forces on this exciting initiative.”

All the courses are presented online, allowing students to complete the courses at their own pace and when it suits them. “JAN Innovation Academy believes that online skills development must be a special focus in South Africa, where education must be a top priority. All industries – especially the hospitality and creative industries – need more diverse educational offerings to reach a wider audience, and enable more people to enter the job market. The challenges, demands and psychological impact of the modern working world was one of the key reasons why we set out to develop a series of courses that allows access to knowledge and skills, especially those who have less time to themselves due to longer working hours or other demands.”

The courses are open to anyone and there are no rigid requirements to applying for the available courses at the academy.

“Through access to a smart device and minimal mobile data expenses, anyone can have access to premium quality developmental content curated in the courses available through JAN Innovation Academy,” adds JAN Group.

Fees for the courses are a once-off R1250 each but the academy is currently running a special launch price of R950 per course until the end of this month.

Upon completion of the course, all students will be provided with a certificate and will have the opportunity to submit their CVs for consideration to work at Jan Hendrik’s prestigious restaurants.

“My dream is for the JAN Innovation Academy to be a place where the stories, insights and lessons my friends and I share can be the difference in whether someone opens that restaurant, starts painting that canvas… or not. We want to inspire others to take that leap of faith and to show up for their dreams,” adds Jan Hendrik.

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