The Apprentice chef was founded in 2008 by Mark Doe of the Just Cooking Cookery School in Kerry and Mark Murphy, a Senior Lecturer of Culinary Arts at the IT Tralee.
The main goal of the programme is to teach second level students the importance of cooking and eating fresh food, using locally-sourced products and to promote the food industry as a chosen career path should any of the students find they have a special affinity for the catering and food business.
The programme has clear learning objectives for the students and the emphasis is on how to cook and enjoy food, rather than just to compete to make the best dish.
Working with leading industry chefs and nutritional experts, the programme starts with a series of workshops where the students attend cookery demonstrations and talks on nutrition and eating well to enhance both health and mood. Students then submit a project on their chosen dish, highlighting the use of local ingredients and their nutritional benefits. The students are then assigned a mentor chef to help them to develop their dish for a series of cook-offs and a grand finale.
To date over 1,800 students have taken part in the programme across Munster and a 5-year plan is being put into place to roll out the programme nationwide which would see the possibility of up to 14,000 students taking part every year.
‘Taste Kerry has supported the Apprentice Chef programme from day one’, says chef Mark Doe, one of its founders. ‘We see them as a vital partner when it comes to promoting the use of local produce. The Apprentice Chef has gone from strength to strength over the last 4 years and this had been made possible from the support we have had from Taste Kerry’.