Local student Lubo Mulkerns from Jonesborough is returning to the kitchen, but not just any kitchen. Lubo is competing with the regional finals of Future Chef on Wednesday 7th February 2024 at Belfast Metropolitan College. There, he will compete against six other secondary school students, who topped local competition heats to progress to the Northern Ireland regional final. The successful regional student will progress to the UK finals in March.
The Future Chef competition is open to year 10-12 secondary school students and aimed at developing culinary talents to inspire the next generation of chefs to get involved in the hospitality industry. Judging competitors are an amazing line up of six judges, including Geoff Baird, business development chef with Henderson Food Service; Gemma Austin who’s many accomplishments include representing Northern Ireland on BBC’s Great British Menu and Ulster Tatler Restaurant of the Year; Sean Owens, Culinary Training Officer at Ulster University; Artur Fron, winner of Northern Ireland’s Institute of Hospitality Independent Chef of the Year, and Kristen Nugent, FutureChef UK National Winner 2023.
Lubo who attends St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook has been in preparation for the regional completion for many weeks now. Each week Lubo practices his skills at home and at his dad’s local deli each Saturday. Lubo is also attending ten 1 to 1 mentoring sessions with Southern Regional College’s professional chef and lecturer Sinead Boyle, who herself was a finalist at the 2023 Institute of Hospitality Awards. Throughout these sessions, Sinead has been building and enhancing Lubo’s skills, practising dishes to improve timings.
At the regional competition Lubo will have just one hour, 30 minutes to prepare, chop, organise and cook his planned meal of a mouthwatering lamb in a marinated sauce followed by a tantalising jelly sorbet sponge with crème anglaise. Timing is everything, with Lubo admitting that the biggest challenge going into the regionals is getting timing right. Lubo said:
“The biggest challenge is timing. The competition is 1h30mins and so therefore I need to ensure I have everything cooked within this timeframe. This is why organisation is a very important skill to require. I have been practising at lot at home particularly over Christmas to try and get my timing narrowed down.”
Lubo holds out Gordan Ramsey as his role model within the culinary industry. Not forgetting home grown role models, Lubo hopes to follow in his dad’s footsteps and own his own restaurant in the future.
Sinead Boyle, Lecturer at Southern Regional College commented:
“Lubo has worked extremely hard for this competition, and it would be fantastic to see him win. He is a great student who always has a positive attitude, is eager to learn and always has a smile on his face. I wish Lubo all the best”.