On Thursday 11th May, students from secondary schools across Munster will complete the final service in the 2016/2017 Flogas Ireland and Fáilte Ireland sponsored Apprentice Chef Programme.
Since October 2016 over 500 students have enjoyed a series of demonstrations and workshops as part of the programme, which aims 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 crisis in Ireland and contribute to the development of self-confidence and self-esteem.
The young finalists will enjoy an authentic professional kitchen experience and serve restaurant standard dishes ranging from “green tea smoked chicken with cauliflower rice, apple & fennel slaw” to “pistachio, courgette and lemon cake” to a panel of judges.
Having been mentored by Kerry chefs Mark Doe and Louise Brosnan, who recently completed a stage in Belfast with Danni Barry, Ireland’s only female Michelin Star chef, and supported by nutritional therapist, Susie Cox, each dish presented by the students will have a “Good Mood Food” influence.
This is the fifth year of the Apprentice Chef Programme, which was established by Mark Doe of Just Cooking Cookery School in Firies, Co, Kerry; and Mark Murphy, senior lecturer in Culinary Arts at IT Tralee.
Co-founder Mark Doe said: “Since we started the Apprentice Chef in 2012, 2,000 secondary school students have attended workshops and cookery demonstrations. In our initial year we had a modest cohort of students from Kerry and Limerick. In year 2 students from Co Cork participated and for the first time this year, we were delighted to collaborate with Waterford IT and students from Tipperary, Wexford and Waterford have joined the programme. We are continuously impressed by the standard of dishes produced and this inspires us to build on the programme’s success and we will continue in our efforts to take it to national level.”
The inaugural winner, Julia O Doherty from Hazelwood College in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick went on to study pharmacy at UCC. On International Women’s Day this year she contacted the Apprentice Chef team saying, “While it’s not apparent, I find that there are many similarities between cooking and the pharmacy course. While I swapped my chef’s jacket for a lab coat and safety glasses, my goal in cooking still holds through in many dosage forms – the product must make the recipient happy.
“In a nutshell, it goes without saying that my success in the competition has not only inspired me to thrive in the development of my culinary skills but also in my academic studies and my pursuits in extra-curricular activities. When I have an exam approaching or a tough assignment due, I reflect on the challenges that I met and overcame in preparation for the competition. As a result, I have gained self-confidence an