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- Tuesday, 13 December 2016 16:11 | Written by Matthias Tesi Baur
1. Tesi: Dear Stephanie, you are the owner of the school Beyond Bars Akademia in South Africa. Can you tell me more about you and your school?
Stephanie: Beyond Bars is a bartending school with a social conscience. South Africa is a growing platform for the tourism industry, therefore for our industry. The lack of skilled bartenders was starting to show, the gender equality in this industry too. Hence, the idea of combining both, including a social dimension to it. Integrating former inmates was a way of showing that rehabilitation is necessary and a real solution when the prison's population is overcrowded by 138% and the recidivism rate reaches almost 47%. Through our individualized courses, we help individuals and former inmates pursue a career in bartending.
Coming from a difficult neighborhood, I know for a fact that opportunities don't show up easily, which is why I truly believe in helping by offering them this opportunity, the rest of the world often denies them.
More than focusing on skills, we put the human being at the center of our classes. Courses such as anger management, yoga or even group dynamic will be taught. More than bartenders, we are aiming at educating ambassadors of our industry that will then empower others.
2. Tesi: Your history shows that the social and feminist side is important for you. How do you connect this aspects to your daily work?
Stephanie: At Beyond Bars, one of our values, is to never forget where we are from. Wherever you are a woman from the township or one living in the classy Constantia Cape Town, everyone receives the same treatment. We value working hard and hard workers whether they are men or women. By mixing the former inmates and others students in school in classes, we are building bridges between communities, and showing up to the industry that everyone with a serious training can achieve anything.
3. Tesi: Tell me more about South Africa. How would you describe the bar scene in your country and what is specific about it?
Stephanie: South Africa bar scene is new and vibrant. A few years ago, a place like Orphanage in Cape Town was the only one trying to educate patrons about old fashioned or daiquiris not made of shaved ice.
Now that we have more and more tourists visiting our region, we needed to step up our game which resulted in an increase of bars opening.
This is a good thing for SA. We are lucky to have an abundance in terms of local and exotic ingredients, this is one of our strength. The wine region is phenomenal and local plants are infinite. Foraging is one of my favorite thing to do here.
However, the service is still something that needs to be worked on. People must understand that bartending can be considered as a career. Hence our presence to help Cape Town and South Africa offering a premium service at the same level we can find in city like NYC or London.
4. Tesi: What is your vision – where do you want to be in five years?
Stephanie: We would like Beyond Bars to become global. I truly believe in rehabilitation and hospitality is one of the few sectors where this is possible. Becoming a reference in terms of bartending training is doable but will obviously imply a lot of work.
5. Tesi: What does good food means to you?
Stephanie: Good food is a feeling. Wherever I go to a fancy restaurant or a tiny one, good food is that familiar feeling of happiness and contentment.
Matthias Tesi Baur