Wednesday 07 February 2018 was an action packed day at Southern Regional College, as hospitality students from across Northern Ireland gathered for the third NI Regional Colleges Hospitality Student of the Year competition, supported by Bunzl McLaughlin, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF) and Dillon Bass.

Students from Belfast Met, South East Regional College, Southern Regional College and South West College competed to be named ‘Chef of the Year 2018’ and ‘Food Service Student of the Year 2018’. Their challenge was to work in a chef and food service partnership to create a three course meal, design a table setting and serve a panel of judges.

The creativity of students was noted by judges, Stephen Holland, Executive Sous Chef, Lough Erne Resort and Philip Waring, Development Chef for Rational. Commenting Stephen Holland said: “The standard was phenomenal this year and it is great to see such passion, knowledge and capability being displayed by students.’’

Food Service competitors commenced the competition by completing a mystery task themed on ‘Valentines for Two’, choosing ten items to create their valentine basket. Students displayed passion and creativity in the dining room as guest judges were served an aperitif on individually themed tables under the watchful eye of hotel gurus, Stephen Meldrum, from Hastings Slieve Donard Resort and Spa; Marco Marro, from The Merchant Hotel and Roisin McKee from People 1st. Guests marked contestants on their food, service and understanding of the menu. Robert O’Neil, Business Development Manager from Bunzl said: “Students demonstrated first class standards with a great sense of pride, passion and professionalism.”

The winners were announced at an evening Gala Awards Dinner, which kicked off with a Drinks Reception supported by Dillon Bass, followed by a seven course mouth-watering menu prepared, cooked and served by Southern Regional College’s Level 2, Level 3 Professional Cookery Foundation Degree, International Hospitality and Tourism.

Compered by Stephen Meldrum, the gala dinner was attended by representatives from the competing colleges, industry stakeholders and supporters. The event honoured and rewarded the achievements of all the students with competition participants receiving gifts sponsored by the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation.

Raymond Sloan, Director of Client Services of Southern Regional College said: “We are delighted to host this event and it is great to see students challenging themselves by participating in this competition. We really valued the support of our industry partners, Bunzl McLaughlin, Northern Ireland Hotels Federation and Dillon Bass.”

The category winners were:

Chef of the Year 2018 – Kieran Martin (South West College)

Runner Up – Elaine McFerran (Belfast Metropolitan College)

Food Service Student of the Year 2018 – Zsolt Molnar (South West College)

Runner Up – Fabio Goncalves (South West College)

Bringing the evening to a close, Fiona Bradley, Head of the Hospitality School at Southern Regional College, concluded: “I would like to thank the students for their endeavours, determination and commitment. Their ability has shone through and they rose to the challenge of delivering a service in a competitive environment. As a college, we value the support of the wider industry and realise the commitment that lecturers have given in mentoring and preparing the teams.”

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