Thursday 11 May, secondary school students from across Munster travelled to IT Tralee for the final service in the 2016/2017 Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland sponsored Schools Apprentice Chef Programme.
17 year old Padráic Randles from Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine, Kenmare, Co Kerry carried off the Supreme Apprentice Chef title for 2017. It was his second year to enter the competition and he won for his dish of marinated pan fried Skeaghanore duck fillet, potato rosti, spring roll with celeriac and cabbage, carrot purée, toasted hazelnuts and sweet potato crisps.
Joint second place was awarded to Emily O Hara from Midleton College in Cork for her pan seared bream and Lauren Wall from St Declan’s Community College, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford for her herb crusted fillet of cod. Kelly English from St Colman’s Community College in Midleton, Co Cork received third place for her “Lemon Trio & Chocolate Surprise.”
All finalists experienced an authentic restaurant environment in the kitchens at IT Tralee and served dishes which ranged from “green tea smoked chicken with cauliflower rice, apple & fennel slaw” to “pistachio, courgette and lemon cake” to a panel of discerning judges.
As the winner, Padráic, who comes from a dairy farm in Kenmare, walked away with a prize package that included a set of professional knives, €1000 equipment for his school, Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare, a year’s subscription to Easyfood Magazine and a professional food styling session at Easyfood Magazine HQ this summer. In addition, the specially commissioned Supreme Apprentice Chef perpetual trophy was presented to Padraic by Michael Murphy, sales representative for Flogas Ireland.
Addressing an audience comprising students, teachers and family supporters, Failte Ireland’s John Mulcahy praised the students and said, “Fáilte Ireland is proud to have supported the Apprentice Chef Programme from its very first year. It has been a pleasure to watch it grow and flourish and to see the talent in the room today assures me that Ireland’s culinary future is in safe hands.”
Having been mentored by accomplished chefs Mark Doe and Louise Brosnan, who recently completed a stage with Danni Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin Star chef and the 2017 RAI Best Chef in Ireland, and supported by nutritional therapist, Susie Cox, each dish had a “Good Mood Food” influence and incorporated locally sourced ingredients.
Commenting on the event, Michael Murphy, sales representative for Flogas Ireland, said, “There was a great atmosphere and I was very impressed at the enthusiasm and dedication of all the participants. Top chefs like Neven Maguire always work on gas and as one of the chief suppliers of gas to the catering and hospitality sector, we’re delighted to support the development of young culinary talent.”
This is the fifth year of the Apprentice Chef Programme which was established by Mark Doe of Just Cooking Cookery School and Mark Murphy, senior lecturer in Culinary Arts at IT Tralee. Co-founder Mark Doe said, “Since the programme’s inception in 2012, we have delivered a series of demonstrations and workshops to over 2000 students attending schools in Kerry, Limerick, Cork, Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford. Our objective is to promote the importance of healthy eating to enhance physical and mental wellbeing, encourage young people to consider a culinary career to help combat the current chef shortage in Ireland and improve their self confidence. Year on year we are overwhelmed by the high standard of the dishes produced by the students and we look forward to building on the programme’s success to take it to national level.”
At a meeting with Patrick O Donovan TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Mark and his colleagues outlined how the programme can contribute to improving the number of students choosing a culinary career which is critical to support the tourism industry in Ireland. This week the Minister said, “I want to wish the team in the Apprentice Chef well with the conclusion of the 2016/2017 programme. I recently met with the team and I was very impressed with their positive attitude and the vision they have to upskill our second level students across such a wide range of culinary skills. I also want to congratulate all the students who have participated and wish them well for the future.”