Junior Chefs' Academy celebrates graduation

EIGHTEEN young chefs celebrated their graduation from the Junior Chefs' Academy programme at NRC Ballymena Campus last week.

The Junior Chefs’ Academy aims to build the skills of future young chefs and is organised by People 1st, the sector skills council for the hospitality and tourism industry, and Compass Group UK and Ireland, part of the world’s largest catering company.

Introduced in all six colleges in February 2009, over 250 young people have been given a valuable insight into the industry as the Junior Chefs’ Academy has delivered 16 programmes across 13 campuses throughout Northern Ireland.

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Congratulating the young chefs on their graduation success, Roisin McKee, People 1st, said: "Junior Chefs’ Academy is a fun-filled, hands-on introduction to cooking as a career and is a stepping stone to the professional cookery course the young graduates can now consider, inspiring future chef talent to join a growing and dynamic industry is key to Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Safefood and City and Guilds."

The eighteen graduates aged 12 to 16, from 11 local schools, all attended NRC’s Ballymena Campus and were presented with certificates by Tony Madden, Head of School Hospitality & Catering and Junior Chefs’ Academy supporters, Stephen Ramsey of Aghadowney Foods and David Lynn of Lynas Foods Services.

Over a 10-week period on Saturday mornings the young people learned about how to get the best out of local ingredients, plan menus, and how to cook a variety of starters, main courses and desserts.

All this hard work culminated in a graduation event when the young people cooked a special lunch for family, friends and key sponsors at NRC Ballymena.

The next Junior Chefs’ Academy programme will begin in September 2010.