Drumglass High School student, Grace Burrows, has competed in the Springboard’s FutureChef National Final at Westminster Kingsway College in London.
The 15-year-old pupil from Castlecaulfield beat five other aspiring chefs at the FutureChef NI Regional Final at Belfast Metropolitan College, with her award-winning dish of locally sourced hake served with crispy Parma ham, peas a la Francaise and creamed potatoes along with a dessert of chocolate brownie with pistachio nuts, orange segments and crème fraiche.
And in preparation for last Monday’s Final in London, Grace has been working alongside the experienced chefs in the training kitchens at South West College.
FutureChef directly relates to the national curriculum and gives young people a life skill. It aims to tackle the severe skills shortage facing hospitality by inspiring 12-16 year olds to develop their cooking skills and understanding of nutrition.
Springboard’s FutureChef features a four stage national competition, annually involving over 8,000 participants. It also includes classroom resources, chef demonstrations and skills challenges, and forms a link between schools and hospitality employers.
Grace said: “Winning the regional heat of the Future Chef competition has been a wonderful opportunity for me. I have always loved cooking but this experience has really opened up the possibilities of pursuing a career in the food industry. I come from a farming background and I now see the connections from ‘farm to fork, and the importance of having good quality food to eat and enjoy. I have learnt so much already, preparing for the heats and being mentored one to one – I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to cook in the national final in London. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.”
Springboard Regional Manager Michele McCreary added: “Springboard’s FutureChef was developed as a result of research into young people’s ideas about the hospitality industry. Research revealed that young people really admire high-profile celebrity chefs, yet surprisingly few genuinely consider a career as a chef!
“Springboard’s FutureChef provides teachers and young people with a wonderful insight into the wealth of career opportunities that the hospitality sector has to offer.”