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Hospitality and Catering’s Rising Stars

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As the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink takes off for its exciting year of festivities it’s important to also consider the legacy that Northern Ireland develops for the future. We have award winning produce and now we have award winning restaurants, with global acclaim such as Ox, Deanes and James Street South, but what do these successful establishments have to offer to the new generation of restauranteurs and chefs emerging out of training? 

This issue we focus on the rising stars that have their finger on the pulse of what it means to be creative, hard-working and highly skilled to influence and innovate the hospitality and catering industry of the future.  

Patrick Sojka 

Patryk is a studying for a Level 3 NVQ in Professional Cookery at Belfast Met and last year was awarded two bursaries, the Belfast Met Student Chef of the Year Award and the Tesco Home Grown Talent Award which got him work experience in the kitchens of the hospitality industry's most notable chefs, Gordon Ramsey and Tom Kerridge. Add this to the honour of Head Chef at La Parade Des Chefs hospitality show making Patryk one to watch out for in future in the top eateries of the world.  

Tamsin Claessen 

Formerly studying Event Management Tamsin changed her career path in 2014 to pursue a career in catering. Now a graduate of a VRQ Level 2 professional chef diploma student Tamsin was crowned 1st place with her South African inspired meal at the national Cook SA competition held in London. Tamsin was rewarded for her efforts with a trip to South Africa and a one week placement at the top restaurant in South Africa, The Tasting Room. She is now a pastry chef at Belfast restaurant Tedford’s. 

Thomas Martin 

Thomas Martin is a 19 year old student who finished 3rd in the Cook South Africa 2015 competition alongside his fellow student Tamsin Claessen. He had only taken up cooking last year and has gained experience in Michelin Star restaurant Ox. Consequently Thomas’s time competing in Cook SA has aspired him to follow a career in fine dining after experiencing a day in one of London’s top fine dining restaurants in the Park Lane Hotel. Thomas is also part of the IFEX team behind the College’s competing restaurant NINE. 

Isis Palamine 

NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery student Isis competed against 5 Northern Ireland colleges in the Big College Seafood Cook Off in October 2015. Isis scooped the Chef’s Choice Award as one of the most promising future chefs in the competition. Isis said – “Taking part in competitions such as the Big Seafood College Cook-off was beyond words. Just being there around the most exceptionally inspirational chefs all around Northern Ireland was truly an opportunity.” 

Connor Bradley 

Connor Bradley is at the early stages of his Level 3 Professional Cookery course at Belfast Met, but already he has been recognised in competitions, gaining amazing career enhancing experiences at the Hospitality Exchange Industry Chef Conference at the Europa Hotel in October 2015, when he had the opportunity to assist two top Michelin star Chefs, Dannie Barry (Deanes EIPIC Belfast) and Ollie Dabbouse (Dabbouse, London) on stage in front of a large industry based audience. 

Connor said – “It was a great opportunity for me to work alongside three amazing chefs - Danni Barry, Brian McDermott and Ollie Dabbous. It’s unbelievable how much you can learn at competitions in such a small period of time. Over the space of a few days I learnt about the local seafood of Ireland alongside our chef mentor Andy Rea. I would recommend that part in competitions to any culinary students wanting to advance in their career.” 

Charlotte McGrath 

Charlotte hit the ground running when she applied and was selected to become an apprentice at James Street South in 2014. Charlotte has a natural aptitude for the culinary arts but had initially chosen a degree in History and RE. Charlotte’s time with James Street South has earned her a role at the acclaimed restaurant and she has said that it was down to hard work and commitment.    

“My time at James Street South was an amazingly busy year, with a lot of hard work and full houses but above all it has been a lot of fun! The staff in James Street South are amazing and have provided great encouragement for me. The apprenticeship afforded me the skills to work in kitchens around the world.” 

The Year of Food and Drink events have the opportunity to showcase the talent that is emerging from higher education institutions, which is vast as is the range of culinary prospects available to aspiring chefs within Northern Ireland. From award winning restaurants to Gold Star produce there are endless possibilities in which industry trainees can benefit from developing their abilities in a burgeoning home-grown industry. 

Want to know how you can work in the catering industry? Go to Hospitality and Catering courses to apply online .

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