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The International Hotel School has opened the CHRISTINA MARTIN CULINARY ARTS CENTRE, at their campus in Durban, named in tribute to the late Chef Christina Martin.
William Martin, Christina’s husband, opened the school by praising The International Hotel School for their initiative, and he commented that “Christina dedicated her life to teaching students; she taught students of all abilities and tried to instil in them her love of the culinary arts.” Martin went on to say that, “She was a great Chef, a perfectionist who inspired students to reach their true potential, through hard work and creativity, in their chosen careers and I hope that the students will leave the Christina Martin Culinary Arts Centre with the same dedication to the food & beverage industry.”
Christina Martin married at age 19 and moved to Durban in 1963, where she started her career as an interior designer. Projects in which she was involved included the upgrade of three 4,500 ton ships, Afcol, as well as new hotel developments. It was during this time that Christina ventured into kitchen design and discovered her passion for food.
Christina’s philanthropic nature first came to the fore in the early 1970’s when she built and decorated a nursery school in Umlazi Township which supplied meals to 50 toddlers on a daily basis. Although Christina and her sister opened an interior decorating business this was short lived as Christina wanted to further her career in the culinary world.
Her first cooking school was opened at home in 1973 and, as she travelled South Africa extensively giving cooking lessons at the same time, she soon became known as the “Galloping Gourmet”. Christina’s culinary lessons were extremely successful and her list of avid supporters grew extensively and soon she was able to expand her business into premises in Essenwood Road and thereafter to Florida Road. It was at this time that The Christina Martin School of Food and Wine and the Rolling Pin Cookery Shop and Deli were started. This was one of the first independent and privately owned cooking schools to open in South Africa, a start of what was to become a well-known trend.
Christina was consulted on numerous occasions for food development and styling for national and international companies and journals. She cooked for royalty, presidents, (including Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk), top Diplomats from the White House in America and many other dignitaries. Christina cooked at many high profile functions and venues including the Durban July Stewards’ Suite where her involvement spanned 12 years, the Nam Summit, Accord President’s Award, Durban City Hall, the Porsche Club, Sun Crush and many more. Christina’s achievements over the years include being the Founder Member of the International Wine and Food Society of KwaZulu Natal, Maitre Chef de Cuisine and Commandeur Associe de la Commanderie des Cordon Bleu de France, Commander and Bailli Honoraire of the Confrie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, a Professional Member of the International Association of Cooking Schools of America (IACP) as well as Chairperson of the KwaZulu Natal branch and a Fellow and Member of the Academy of Chefs and The South African Chefs Association. Christina was awarded The South African Chefs Association’s President’s Award for outstanding service to the industry by Dr Billy Gallagher, being the first woman to receive this award. Christina also received the President’s Award from the Chaine des Rotisseurs for outstanding service to the industry. Her experience and training in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Europe earned Christina a Diploma in Professional Cookery and Food and Beverage from Cornell University.
The Christina Martin School of Food and Wine was sold to the Three Cities Group in 2006, when Christina went into retirement. Never one to rest on her laurels, Christina opened a small guest lodge in the village of De Rust, in the Klein Karoo and spent her last years sharing her experience and knowledge by training people from disadvantaged communities
Christina was a Professional Chef but more importantly a wife and mother of two children, Michelle and Candice, who have both followed their mother’s passion and are both in the hospitality industry.
“It is truly amazing what Christina Martin contributed to the food and beverage industry and it is with this in mind that we dedicate our new culinary arts centre in her name - the CHRISTINA MARTIN CULINARY ARTS CENTRE”, said Don King, Managing Director of The International Hotel School. King went on to say, “it is our intention to ensure that each student will leave our centre with as much passion and creativeness as Christina portrayed during her career.”
The new Christina Martin Culinary Arts Centre includes two teaching kitchens with 24 stations in each room. These brand new work stations will accommodate 48 students at their own stations ensuring first-hand experience in all their training. In addition, the lecture rooms have been equipped with Wi-Fi throughout enabling the students to utilize remote access to their notes and the internet. Future expansion plans include the upgrade of the Patisserie Kitchen.
As South Africa’s Leading Private Hospitality Management Education Provider, The International Hotel School is recognized both locally and internationally for the high calibre of its graduates. Registered with the South African Department of Higher Education and Training as both a Private Higher Education Institution as well as a Private FET College, The International Hotel School has Campuses in Cape Town, Sandton and Durban, which offer a range of nationally and internationally recognised diplomas and certificates across all sectors of the hospitality industry.