THE culinary skills of the next generation were on display at the regional heats of Springboard’s Future Chef competition hosted by Northern Regional College in Ballymena.
Aspiring young chefs from Carnlough’s St Killian’s College, Slemish College in Ballymena and Ballyclare High School had just 90 minutes to prepare a two-course meal for two people with a budget of up to £7.
As well as completing the task on time and within budget, competitors were also marked on their workmanship, creativity and presentation skills, the composition, taste and flavour of their dishes and the nutritional value of their menu choice.
Future Chef is a national culinary programme organised by the charity Springboard which aims to introduce young people to the world of catering and teaching technical cookery skills.
Molly Furey (15), a pupil at St Killian’s College, came out on top with Emily Gilchrist from Ballyclare High School filling the runner up spot.
Molly’s winning dish was braised pork with apple sauce, wholegrain mustard mash, carrots and parsnips, and a winter berry pavlova, while Emily served up chorizo risotto with lemon and lime cheesecake for dessert.
They now go forward to the Northern Ireland finals in Belfast on 20 January 2020 with a chance to qualify to the national finals in Westminster Kingsway College in London later in the year.
The two judges for the competition were Robert Tessier, a catering lecturer at Northern Regional College and Donna Hughes, Catering Support Manager at Galgorm Resort. Both were impressed by the quality and variety of the dishes served up by the competitors and praised the participants for the incredibly high standard of their food.
The judges agreed that all the finalists had shown a wonderful understanding of technique and execution.
Announcing the winner, Alice Quinn, Springboard Northern Ireland Project Team, said the standard was exceptionally high. She congratulated all the competitors and admitted that it was difficult to select a winner as there was so little separating them.
Congratulating all the competitors who qualified for the regional heats, Anne Birt-Macartney, Assistant Head of Department for Hospitality and Tourism at the College, said:
“This is a fantastic event that we will continue to support in the future. On a personal note, I was amazed by the level of passion and talent these young chefs show.
“I would like to congratulate all of the participants and say thank you to the schools and families who supported them. This platform gives young people a head-start in their career.
“It is the nature of our business at Northern Regional College to nurture and grow future talent. These young people demonstrate exceptional talent and with the emerging chef shortage we are currently experiencing in the industry, we must do everything we can to encourage young people who are interested in careers in the hospitality and catering sector.
“These awards are a fantastic opportunity and we are hugely proud of our competitors today and wish Molly and Amy the very best of luck as they go into the Northern Ireland final of Future Chef.”
Northern Regional College offers a number of catering courses from part-time leisure cookery classes to professional cookery classes. For further information go to www.nrc.ac.uk