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Henderson Foodservice supports fresh batch of NI chefs at FutureChef competition

Posted By:
Henderson Foodservice Ltd.

15th Dec 2022

Over the past month, budding chefs from schools and colleges across Northern Ireland have been cooking up a storm in a bid to win their regional heats of the annual FutureChef competition.

Supported for the second year by Henderson Foodservice, a leading supplier to the hospitality industry in Ireland, FutureChef is the flagship educational programme by charity Springboard, which is committed to nurturing young talent and promoting hospitality as a great place to work.

This year, more than double the number of students entered the competition compared to 2021, which saw Campbell College’s Michael Thompson win the NI final and go through to the national finals in London.

Out of almost 1,500 students who registered to take part in the competition, 41 aspiring chefs made it through to the regional heats with the guidance of Henderson Foodservice Business Development Chef, Geoff Baird.

Geoff commented; “Each year, these young chefs create plates of food which deliver on taste, provenance, ensure very little waste and are presented immaculately. We have had a fantastic response to the competition this year, and I am so impressed with the dedication and talent of all our participants.

“At Henderson Foodservice, we work with teams of chefs at thousands of restaurants, schools and hospitals across Ireland, ensuring they get the top choice of locally sourced and prepared ingredients for their menus. We know the importance of futureproofing all levels of the hospitality industry, and are passionate about working alongside Springboard to encourage more young people to consider a career in hospitality, benefitting from all the positive skills and expertise that career can cultivate. The FutureChef competition is a brilliant starting point at a young age.”

The eight finalists have now been announced, which includes one wild card entry, who judges just could not let leave the competition at the heat stages! They will now work alongside their regional professional chef mentors to guide them through to the final of the competition:

  • Mollie Sloan, Methodist College, Belfast. Mentor, Artur Fron, 2Taps Belfast.
  • Hannah Dunn, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School. Mentor, Stephen Holland, Lough Erne Resort.
  • Kristen Nugent, St. Ciaran’s College, Ballygawley. Mentor, James Devine.
  • Ella Wray, Ballycastle High School. Mentor, Jack Mooney, Marine Hotel, Ballycastle.
  • James Webber, Campbell College, Belfast. Mentor, Cathy Adamson, Sodexo.
  • Alex Maguire, St. Conor’s College, Coleraine. Mentor, Chris Furey, Me and Mrs Jones, Portstewart.
  • Cassie McAleavey, Rathfriland High School, Newry. Mentor, Darragh Dooley, Killeavy Castle Estate.
  • Wild Card: Lauren Blake, Wallace High School, Lisburn. Mentor, Stephen Higginson, The Square Bistro, Lisburn.

At the NI final, students will prepare, cook and serve a main and a dessert for two people, within a £10 budget, in 90 minutes.

Geoff continued; “When it came to Lauren, she was just so, so close to winning her heat and we couldn’t let her leave the competition yet. We had the capacity for eight finalists, and this competition is all about offering and maximising opportunity for young people to encourage them into the industry. We’re delighted to include Lauren in our finalists.

“It just goes to show the calibre of talent from our schools this year. We’re very excited to get to Belfast Met in the New Year, where I’ll be joined by some of Northern Ireland’s finest professional chefs to help select our Northern Ireland winner, who will represent us in the National Final in London.”

Geoff’s fellow judges for the NI final on the 13th January 2023 are well-known Chef and NI hospitality advocate Sean Owens, celebrity chef and author Paula McIntyre, executive head chef at the Lough Erne Resort, Noel McMeel and last year’s NI winner, Michael Thompson.

Since the FutureChef competition began in 1999, almost 200,000 young people aged 12-16 have taken part and learned how to cook, developing their skills and knowledge with many going on to establish themselves within the industry. Throughout this time, the competition has progressed and developed to form part of the overall FutureChef programme which offers industry links, online resources, module learning, careers advice and guidance, and a suite of teacher resources.

Photo caption:

FutureChef Belfast Met Regional Heats Winner

The winner of the Belfast heat of the 2022/23 Springboard FutureChef competition, Mollie Sloan from Methodist College is pictured with Geoff Baird, Business Development Chef at competition sponsor, Henderson Foodservice; mentor Artur Fron from 2Taps and Stephen Ferris, Head Chef at Coppi Belfast.