NRC Junior Chefs’ Academy trains star chefs of the future

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Mouth watering dishes were on the menu at the Junior Chefs’ Academy (JCA) graduation at Northern Regional College’s Ballymoney Campus recently.

The Junior Chefs cooked in full whites in a professional kitchen preparing a special lunch for family, friends and special guests from the college.

Junior chefs’ Academy is a fun-filled, hands-on introduction to cooking as a career, which is organised by sector skills council, People 1st, in partnership with Compass Group UK and Ireland who have committed a two year funding package for the programme locally.

Nine students aged 12 to 16, from six local schools have completed the 10 week course which took place on Saturday mornings at the Ballymoney Campus.

The students were Kelly Crone from Ballyclare Secondary School, Lewis Dobbin and Jack Hall from Dalriada School, Tom Irons from Coleraine Academical Institution, Katheryn Lowrey, Rebecca Moore and Ruth Wallace from Ballymena Academy, Jack McAlonan from St Louis Grammar School and Charlotte Willoughby from Cambridge House Grammar School.

Over 500 young people have graduated from the Junior Chefs’ Academy across Northern Ireland since its introduction in 2009.

Junior Chefs’ Academy has been taught at NRC since January 2009 and continues to be very popular as lecturer, Mary Doran, explains:

“Junior Chefs’ Academy teaches basic skills, including developing an understanding of real food, what’s in season and how to cook our excellent local produce and its continuing popularity demonstrates the desire of young people to learn to cook.

Throughout the 10 week course, students learn the core skills needed to begin a career in the catering industry. These include hygiene practices in the kitchen, knife skills, classification and preparation of soups and salads, vegetables and pasta, fish, meat and poultry and hot and cold desserts.

The Junior Chefs’ Academy programme is industry led and supported by the Institute of Hospitality, the Northern Ireland Hotels Federations, Pubs of Ulster and City & Guilds.

Rosin McKee of People 1st stressed the value of the course both to young people and to the future of the industry:

There are many exciting tourism developments underway as part of the NI 2012 celebrations including the success of hosting the Irish Open later this year.