Friday 8th May, Tralee.....The heat was on and the smell of ‘good mood food’ was in the air as 16 students from secondary schools in Cork, Limerick and Kerry took part in the 2015 Munster Apprentice Chef Project Final, sponsored by Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland, on Friday 8th May at IT Tralee.
Following six months of preparation and regional cookoffs, the overall winner was Stephanie Kearney, 17, a TY student at Colaiste Mhuire, Buttevant, Co Cork. 2nd place went to Brandon Moran, 18, a sixth year student at Colaiste na Sceilge, Cahirciveen, Kerry. In joint third place were Laura Stack, 16 a TY Student at Hazelwood College, Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick and Charlotte Hall, 16, a TY student at Midleton College, Cork.
A delighted Stephanie was presented with a €1,000 voucher for her school’s home economics department, a monogrammed chef’s uniform, a copy of co-founder Mark Doe’s cookbook, Just Cooking and an internship with head chef Simon Regan of the 5-star Hotel Europe in Killarney. Stephanie’s school, Colaiste Mhuire in Buttevant, Cork will also receive a one-day cookery workshop from the Apprentice Chef culinary team. All 16 contestants received a uniform, certificate, cookbook and specially monogrammed chopping board.
The Munster Apprentice Chef project, sponsored by Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland, is now in its third year. It was established by Mark Doe of justcooking.ie and Mark Murphy, lecturer in Culinary Arts at IT Tralee.
Aimed at secondary school students, the theme was ‘Good Mood Food’, to promote the importance of healthy eating in overall personal physical and mental wellbeing, as well as combating obesity and other health issues. Each finalist’s dish had to include ‘good mood foods’ based on seasonality, availability, locally produced and healthy unprocessed ingredients.
Stephanie Kearney’s winning dish was pan-fried sea bass with gnocchi, asparagus and shellfish bisque and crab spring rolls. She said, “I’m delighted to have won and my thanks to my teacher Mary Dunlea for suggesting the competition to me. I entered because I wanted to find out more about a career as a professional chef and learn more about healthy food and ingredients.
I have learned so much about the importance of “Good Mood Foods” in the diet and how it really can make such a difference to your well-being. The mentoring that I received from chef Mark Doe was fantastic and I loved working in a busy professional kitchen.”
2nd placed Brandon Moran’s dish was sole fillet stuffed with crab mousseline and served with potatoes prepared in two ways. Joint 3rd placed Laura Stack’s dish was breast of duck with pommes anna, crispy vegetable wontons and sweet potato purée served with a honey and clove sauce and Charlotte Hall’s dish was pan-fried monkfish with saffron sauce, caramelised baby onions, cabbage and pancetta
Co-founder Mark Murphy said, “To date, over 1,200 secondary school students have attended culinary mentoring workshops at IT Tralee as part of the Munster Apprentice Chef project. It is part of a larger three year strategy to target 60 schools in Munster in 2016 and a longer term goal to involve secondary schools at national level. “
Co-founder Mark Doe added, “Another aim of the project is to promote the advantages of locally sourced food from health and economic perspectives, and how this can also benefit the local economy by keeping jobs in the region. Accordingly, a huge vote of thanks to our sponsors Flogas Ireland and Failte Ireland for their support to date and we’re looking forward to building on its success in the coming years.”