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Apprentice chefs are sought by top chain boss Niall McKenna

By John Mulgrew

Published 28/06/2016

Top Belfast chef Niall McKenna is once again on the hunt for some of Northern Ireland’s best young cooks. The James Street South owner is offering places to 12 students as part of his apprenticeship programme, which is now in its third year.

The year-long placement is open to 16 to 24-year-olds, who will combine on-the-job training with two days at Belfast Metropolitan College.

Those cooks will be given the chance to work alongside chefs in the James Street South Group, which also includes the Bar and Grill, Hadskis, The Cookery School and Cast & Crew.

And three of last year’s trainees have secured full-time jobs with Niall McKenna.

The scheme is being run with support from the Department for the Economy.

“This is a unique opportunity to develop skills in one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing industries,” Mr McKenna said.

“Successful applicants will receive ongoing training through weekly workshops in our Cookery School, as well as regular activities to ensure a greater appreciation of food, such as meeting producers and others on the supply chain.

“This is geared for aspiring chefs who have the determination to succeed, learning from leaders in the industry and cooking with local produce to create the dining experience that James Street South is famous for.”

And Economy Minister Simon Hamilton added: “In this, the Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink, there has surely never been a better time for young apprentices looking to carve out a career in our outstanding hospitality industry.

“As our reputation as a food destination grows, so does our need for young, skilled chefs to sustain and develop the industry in the future.

“Apprenticeships and youth training have a vital role to play in my department’s skills delivery framework.

“The Chef Apprentice Programme offers a great opportunity to establish a career in this exciting and vibrant sector, while also helping to ensure that Northern Ireland’s restaurants continue to go from strength to strength and, ultimately, contributing to the growth of our local economy.”

Jonathan Heggarty, Belfast Metropolitan College’s director of curriculum, said: “The strong relationship between Belfast Metropolitan College and James Street South is a key aspect of the Apprenticeship Programme, providing the apprentices with the best of both worlds.”

“The James Street South Chef Apprenticeship Programme is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is keen to break into the culinary world.”

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