Instilling key employability skills required for today’s demanding workforce is a key priority on South Eastern Regional College’s curriculum.
And to illustrate how their efforts are paying off, two aspiring chefs from the college are on course to a high-flying career having landed their dream job as commis chefs at one of Comber’s best loved bar and restaurants.
The talented duo, Roisin McKeown and Johnathan McQuade from Downpatrick, both secured the full-time post at Lisbarnett House, after achieving an impressive five Distinctions in their level two Professional Cookery diploma and will now work alongside one of Ireland’s best known award winning chefs, Danny Millar.
Johnathan, aged 24, said, “I am over the moon that I got five Distinctions. After speaking with my tutor Michael Gillies he suggested sending off my CV and portfolio to Lisbarnett House and I was invited for a trial which must have gone really well as I was offered a job as a commis chef.
“I was elated when I was offered the role. I feel privileged and am excited to be part of this once in a lifetime experience. I am hoping to be able to gain valuable experience working in a top restaurant and working under the tutelage of head chef Danny Millar and his professional team experiencing life in a flagship kitchen and the production of a very varied menu.”
Roisin added: “I am so grateful to the staff at SERC for the high quality training which has opened up this great opportunity and enhanced my practical abilities and my own confidence. I’ve learnt a lot whilst I’ve been at College and I’d like thank all the tutors for pushing me in the right direction and particularly Michael Gillies for helping me in securing the job at Lisbarnett House.”
Lisbarnett House Chef and Company Director Danny Millar said: “We are passionate about finding and supporting young talent within the hospitality sector, giving them an opportunity into the industry.”
SERC Professional Cookery tutor Michael Gillies also commented on the student’s achievements saying: “I am extremely happy for both students. They have worked really hard and deserve this excellent start to their career in hospitality. The experience they gain will stay with them for the rest of their professional career. They are a great example of how students can embrace what professional cookery has to offer and directly benefit from it.”
Michael was a real inspiration and set a great example to his class recently this year when he walked away with a Bronze medal at the prestigious NI Chef of the Year event.
SERC Principal and Chief Executive Mr Ken Webb also praised the chefs and said: “SERC is keen to emphasise the importance of integrating industry expertise to enrich students’ studies. This is achieved through specialist workshops with visiting guest speakers and visits to restaurants and suppliers.
“These experiences enhance the students’ culinary repertoire and make them outstanding candidates when looking for employment. We are extremely proud to see them offered full-time work.”
Earlier in the year the young chefs earned their right as rising stars of the industry wowing the judges with their culinary expertise at the Brakes Student Chef Team Challenge – missing out on the UK top spot by only one point! They were the only college from Northern Ireland to compete at the prestigious event.
SERC provides a range of full and part-time hospitality, catering and professional cookery courses designed to give students ‘the edge’. To enrol or to find out how SERC can help you ‘get the edge’ call 0845 600 7555, visit:
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