If you had met Wesley Smith last year you would have been forgiven for mistaking him as yet another young man focused on partying and having a good time. Today Wesley, who is from Idas Valley in Stellenbosch, has changed his life around and works as a first assistant chef at the Wine Lounge of the well-known Delaire Graff Wine Estate.
Wesley made the transformation after completing the Health and Frail Care, Edu Care and City & Guilds’ Professional Cooking and Food and Beverage Service programmes.
These days, Wesley makes tasty cold meats, salmon and cheese platters for hundreds of guests who visit the Delaire wine tasting venue. This is a big change from the life he used to lead before.
“I left school in Grade 10, because I had made bad choices and spent my time with the wrong people,” explains Wesley.
“I also lost my best friend in that same year. He was 18 and had glandular cancer and TB. All of this contributed to the fact that I failed Grade 10. I did the Grade over, but then I started cutting school, because I was ashamed that I had failed.”
In 2013 he registered at Worcester College for a mechanic course, but quit after six months and spent a year at home mostly partying with friends. People started calling him a “good for nothing”.
“I only went to Bergzicht to satisfy my mom, however, I soon realised that my attitude was holding me back and slowly changed it.”
He is thankful for the support he received from Bergzicht, in particular Ms Ingrid Andrews, the Placement Officer at Bergzicht’s Placement Bureau.
“When I met her, she looked me in the eye and said she would help me do something with my life; and she did just that.”
Today Wesley is well-known amongst Delaire guests for his tasty and equally attractive snacks.
“I love making food and look forward to creating something new with the platters each day. We had a chef who taught me how to make the platters, but also encouraged me to try new things, to introduce my own style and to create something unique,” says the man who dreams of becoming a chef one day.