Two pupils from Abbey Vocational School have been named regional finalists in the 2018 Mount Charles Big School Cook Off. Chloe Boyle and Aimee Gallagher will be progressing to the grand finale in March after being selected as county winners.
The Mount Charles Big School Cook Off, 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.
Almost 200 entries were shortlisted down to 52 teams of 11-14 year olds, who all participated in regional heats across the country to secure their place in the final of the cookery competition, which will take place at Belfast Metropolitan College, Titanic Quarter Campus, on 21st March.
Chloe and Aimee, Donegal’s winning duo, cooked a dish of Killybegs salmon with a gazpacho salsa and saddleback garlic potatoes, beating off stiff competition from Scoil Mhuire, Milford, to win the Donegal heat.
Head of the Home Economics Department at Abbey Vocational College Gladys Stewart said: “We are incredibly proud of Chloe and Aimee for winning the county heat of the Big School Cook Off and making it to the final.
“The girls have really enjoying taking part and the competition has provided great experience for their Junior Certificate practical exam which takes place in a few weeks.
“They have demonstrated excellent teamwork and have been incredible under pressure! We are all very excited about the next stage of the competition and we cannot wait to see what the other counties will be cooking up!
The full list of the eight school teams that have sliced, diced and cooked their way to a place in the final are as follows:
Abbey Community College, Donegal
Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast
St Aidan’s High School, Derrylin
St Catherine’s College, Armagh
St Mary’s College, Derry
Holy Cross College, Strabane
Caitriona Lennox, Big School Cook Off Ambassador at Mount Charles, commented: “The competition at each of these regional heats was fierce, and the teams that have reached the grand final of the Cook Off should be proud for beating such stiff competition!
“Each team was asked to cook a main course for two people, based on local produce and with a budget of £5 per meal. We had a wonderful variety of dishes from Tayto-topped fish pie to Killybegs salmon to Gracehill black Pudding, all demonstrating what can be achieved on a tight budget and with just an hour to prepare, cook and serve a dish.
“We’re in the business of catering and I can honestly say we have some future chefs in our midst – the creativity, knowledge and skill on display was fantastic to see. Good luck to all of our budding chefs in the final this March, I’ve no doubt we’re going to see some serious talent on display,” she added.
Irish News Marketing Manager John Brolly added: “The Irish News are delighted to be involved with Mount Charles in such an exciting initiative. It was amazing to see the students balance so many different skills – attention to detail, teamwork and time management as well as workflow.
“It also shows the passionate interest there is for food and cooking among students, their imagination and knowledge was inspiring and all finalists should be very proud of the high standard of their work.”
Each county winning team has won £200 for their school and a masterclass in cookery from Mount Charles Group Development Chef, Simon Toye, previously Executive Chef at the Michelin-starred Deanes restaurant in Belfast.
The overall winning team at the grand final will win £300 for their school as well as a treat for their family, with a meal at the award winning George’s of The Market restaurant and family tickets to see the Belfast Giants ice hockey team at the SSE Arena.