BUDDING chefs from Downpatrick’s Blackwater Integrated College have been named as regional finalists of the 2017 Mount Charles Big School Cook Off and have progressed to the grand finale in June.
The competition, which is organised in association with the Irish News and Business in the Community, was created to inspire young people to think about healthy eating and food provenance,and to encourage them to consider a future career in the hospitality industry.
After whittling down more than 120 entries at stage one, the heats saw 39 teams of pupils between Years 8 and 10 from 21 schools across Northern Ireland and Donegal given the same set of ingredients to create a pasta dish of their choice.
The Blackwater Integrated College team, led by Miriam Cassidy and Bethany Burke, produced a dish of spaghetti with creamy mushroom sauce and beat off stiff competition which included Down High School.
Blackwater Home Economics teacher Helen McBrearty said the school was “immensely proud” of Bethany and Miriam’s achievement.
“They have been cooking partners in their Home Economics lessons since Year 8 and their perfect partnership combined with their outstanding skills enabled them to produce their winning dish,” she said.
“They are a credit to Blackwater Integrated College and in particular to me as their HE teacher.”
Leann Duffy, Group Director of Catering at Mount Charles, congratulated the Blackwater team, explaining the judges were “seriously impressed” by the knowledge of those taking part and by their passion for food and cooking.
She added: “It was amazing to see how the same set of ingredients could be used to create such a variety of wonderful dishes, demonstrating the creativity and innovation of our young chefs.
“Each of our regional finalists will take part in the grand final event on June 16 where they’ll cook the dish that they submitted in their original entry to the competition and we are very much looking forward to seeing these recipes come to life.”
The Blackwater students won £200 worth of vouchers for their school and a masterclass in cookery from Mount Charles Group development chef Simon Toye, previously executive chef at the Michelin-starred Deane’s Restaurant in Belfast.