The Shannon Region Junior Chef of the Year 2022 took place this week at the Limerick Strand Hotel.
This was the second year of the competition and it was back bigger and better than ever as an in-person event for the first time. The competition was the culmination of a Transition Year taster course, run by a team of professional executive chefs from Limerick and Clare ETB’s College of Further Education and Training, Hospitality Campus.
Since last September, schools across the region participated in two different hospitality taster courses specifically developed for transition years: the Junior Chef ‘Apprenticeship Taster’ and a ‘Barista Skills Taster’. These courses were undertaken by nearly 450 TY students in the region, who have an interest in the hospitality sector as a career or in just learning a skill for life.
One student finalist was selected from four schools across the region to represent their school in a 2-hour live culinary grand final in the Limerick Strand Hotel kitchen.
Gráinne Scullane, a TY student from St Anne’s Community College, Killaloe was the overall competition winner and received the 1st Place Gold Medal.
Speaking at the competition, Chief Executive of Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board, George O’Callaghan, said: “As we emerge from pandemic times we need to inspire our next generation of students and this competition aims to do just that. The new apprenticeship ‘taster’ scheme for transition years with an interest in the hospitality industry as a career has proven highly popular with students across the region over the past two years. I would like to congratulate our Further Education and Training Division and our Schools Division on this fantastic collaboration. I would also like to thank our team of professional executive chefs from the ETB’s Hospitality Campus who have helped make today’s competition for our transition year students a reality.”
Students got to choose local fresh produce and cook them in the professional kitchen at the Limerick Strand Hotel. One of the competition judges was Tom Flavin, Executive Chef and Food Consultant who is passionate about local produce. Speaking at the event he said: “It’s great to be able to showcase the food that we have here in the region and shine a spotlight on the excellent local farmers and food producers and we really appreciate their support for today’s competition too. It’s also so important to instill in young people that we should eat local and support local. In fact, some of the students here today picked their own wild garlic and gorse flowers which was fantastic to see.”
The College of FET Hospitality Campus, operated by Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board’s Further Education and Training Division, is dedicated to providing the highest level of culinary and hospitality training. It has built strong relationships within the Irish hospitality industry since its inception and links its learners directly with employment opportunities. It provides skills training in multiple areas of the hospitality sector.
Bernadette Enright, Centre Manager, said: “Our campus is proud to deliver specialised skills training focused on finding employment in the hospitality industry and this competition showcases the strong relationship we have fostered within the Irish hospitality industry since its inception. We’re also very grateful to everyone from this year’s participating schools and at our College of FET, Hospitality Campus for all the extra hours and dedication they put into getting the students ready for this year’s competition.”