NRC Catering students contributed to success of Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival
The Bushmills Salmon and Whiskey Festival showcases the rich food and drink heritage of the area. An important element of the festival was the series of mouth-watering cookery demonstrations in local restaurants.
Northern Regional College has established strong working relationships with many businesses along the North Coast. Several current and former students work in the Tartine Restaurant at The Distillers Arms in Bushmills and, under the watchful eye of award-winning head chef Gary Stewart, they were integral to preparation and presentation of the cookery demonstrations at the restaurant during the festival.
Colin Wright, who lectures on the Professional Chef courses at the College, explained why it is so important to maintain a strong relationship with businesses in the area: “It’s important that the College engages with local businesses in the hospitality sector, not just the restaurants and hotels in the area, but with suppliers. This gives our students an opportunity to stay up to date with what produce is available locally, as well as current trends in the hospitality sector.
“Working with successful businesses can inspire our students to pursue a career within the sector and the training provided by the College can help existing chefs to upskill and progress their career.”
Colin added: “There are so many exciting opportunities in the hospitality sector and, with the current shortage of qualified chefs, it is more important than ever that we collaborate and promote the industry together."
Celebrity chef Paula McIntyre and Gary Stewart, chef and patron of Tartine, traditionally curate the cookery demonstrations at the Bushmills Whiskey and Salmon Festival with well-established chefs but this year, they decided to include current and former Northern Regional College students who are just starting out in their careers.
Paula and Gary have previously worked with catering students at the College. Paula was a part-time Culinary Arts lecturer and Gary, as a long-standing supporter of skills training and development within Tartine, has provided employment and placement opportunities for College students. Both have worked tirelessly to encourage and support young people interested in a career in hospitality and catering, championing the need for greater support so they can achieve their full potential in the challenging hospitality industry.
Gary said he was delighted to get the young chefs involved in the cookery demonstrations: “They all take great pride in their work and the Bushmills Whiskey and Salmon festival was an opportunity for us to recognise their ability and what they have achieved so far, and it was a chance for the young people to demonstrate their skills and show what they are passionate about."
Tyler Campbell completed both Level 2 and Level 3 Professional Cookery courses at the College and is now employed as Chef de Partie at Tartine Restaurant.
Gary continued: “The College is an invaluable resource for restaurants like Tartine as it provides excellent training for up-and-coming chefs. The experience they get in professional restaurants helps them come on leaps and bounds since they started working in the restaurant. They are a lot more confident, creative and enjoy experimenting to come up with new menu ideas.”