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Top restaurant SHU partners with Belfast Met for Chef Apprentice Programme


Published: August 2021

Top Belfast restaurant SHU has re-launched its Chef Apprentice Programme in partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College. Now in its fifth year, the programme will give three budding cooks aged between 16-24 first-hand experience in working with the finest seasonal produce, in a professional kitchen with the very best chefs in the business. The partnership with Belfast Met means that the apprentices will also receive their City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery.

The restaurant is owned and operated by Alan Reid and Brian McCann who say they have developed the Programme “In a continuing bid to find the very best young, passionate people that have a serious desire to enter the industry and to help shape the future of hospitality in Northern Ireland and beyond.”

SHU is based in South Belfast and is famed for its modern European inspired cuisine. It has won Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland at the UK National Restaurant Awards multiple times and has been listed in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants in Ireland.

The Apprenticeship programme has been launched within SHU’s renowned ‘Centre for Cooking Excellence’, which is headed up by Matt Jordan and Brian McCann, a former Great British Menu star. 

Brian said: “We are just concluding year four of the programme and we are so glad we started it back in 2015. It has been hugely successful and also rewarding, and has allowed us to find two exceptional young chefs last year who are now working in a full-time capacity with us.

“At SHU we are passionate about nurturing our team and our apprentices to help them push their own boundaries in providing exceptional cookery. I started my career as an apprentice chef, so I understand the challenges and apprehensions that young people have at the beginning.

“We have made this a fun, fantastic programme which is hard-work, but also hugely rewarding and gets the apprentices right into the thick of it from day one. Leaving COVID aside, which has obviously made the past year particularly challenging, we feel that there is a real shortage of skilled staff in what is a very successful and growing hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.

“That creates a massive opportunity for the next generation seeking a career in what will continue to be a growing sector of our economy.

Brian concluded: “I want to urge any young cook who has a real passion and determination to succeed in this industry to get in touch and apply for this amazing opportunity. No experience is necessary, but the right attitude is essential.”

The SHU Chef Apprenticeship Programme is one-year long and will commence on the 1st September 2021. Students will spend three days working in the SHU kitchen learning classical French and Modern European-inspired cooking. They will also spend two days at college, learning the theory and practical elements of the job within the Belfast Met curriculum. The programme will be 35 hours per week and will be paid with Chef’s whites provided.

Fiona Dempsey, Head of Belfast Business School at Belfast Metropolitan College said: “Belfast Met is delighted to be once-again involved in this partnership with SHU Restaurant.

“Last year’s scheme was hugely successful, and the two young chefs have immensely enjoyed their time there and to be offered a job at the end of it is the icing on the cake. The apprentices will receive their City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery, and of course the money-can’t-buy experience that they now have on their CV.”

David Lariviere, from the SHU Apprentice Programme 2020 intake said: “This has been a fantastic experience for me and one which I know I will value so much as I progress in my career. I have learnt so much from Matt, Brian and the team and have now a real burning desire to continue to learn from the best in the business.

“I feel honoured to be offered a full-time job at the end of what has been a brilliant year of learning and creating and having fun with food and would encourage any young person with a love of food and cooking to apply.”

Application forms are available NOW. To apply for the SHU Chef Apprenticeship programme email or visit

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