Final call for Apprentice Programme success at James Street South

Niall McKenna from James Street South is pictured with Apprentices Stephanie Tinsley, Dylan Turner and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton
Niall McKenna from James Street South is pictured with Apprentices Stephanie Tinsley, Dylan Turner and Economy Minister Simon Hamilton

Full time positions secured by 2015/16 graduates

The deadline is approaching for the prestigious Apprentice Programme, run by award-winning chef Niall McKenna as part of James Street South Restaurant.  The next generation of kitchen stars have until the 1st of September to submit their applications for the programme, which gives hospitality students the chance to learn their skills from some of the best chefs in Northern Ireland.

Now in its third consecutive year, the scheme, which is endorsed by the Department for the Economy, is offering 12 students the opportunity to study with chefs in the James Street South Group, which also includes the Bar + Grill, Hadskis, The Cookery School and Cast & Crew.

The year-long placement is open to 16-24 year olds who will combine on-the-job training with two days’ attendance at the Belfast Metropolitan College to gain their professional qualifications.

Declan Clarke, one of the 2015/16 Apprentices pictured in Hadskis where he secured a full time job following his involvement with the Apprentice scheme.
Declan Clarke, one of the 2015/16 Apprentices pictured in Hadskis where he secured a full time job following his involvement with the Apprentice scheme.

Three of this years’ trainees have secured full-time employment with James Street South and Niall, who has been hailed as a “Tourism Hero” by industry chiefs here, says the programme is a solid investment in the future of world-class hospitality in Northern Ireland.

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

As in previous years, the apprentice applicants come from a wide range of backgrounds. Marc Thompson had completed his zoology degree before joining the Apprentice Programme and now works at the Bar + Grill. He says the scheme has built up his confidence, and that the work gives him a huge sense of achievement.

After completing my apprenticeship I have been working as a full time Commis Chef in the Bar + Grill.  Despite the obvious drawbacks of long hours and a hot kitchen, I’m always getting to develop my own cooking style whilst learning on the job.  This is an incredible opportunity and I am constantly learning from some of Northern Ireland’s leading chefs, in one of the best industry training schemes available.”

One of last year’s apprentices, Declan Clarke, is now working full time within the James Street South Group and says the programme has turned his dream of being a chef, into a reality.

“Since completing my year successfully and achieving my NVQ Level 2 in professional Cookery, I have taken up a full time position as a Commis Chef in Hadskis.  I continue to put in a lot of hard work, as every day I learn something new even though the programme has come to an end for me and I enjoy going to work.”

Dylan Turner, who is now working with Head chef David Gillmore at James Street South, is set on carving a career for himself within the industry

“I really enjoy my job.  Cooking was already a hobby and I get to do this every day whilst getting to work with really experienced chefs, like my Head Chef and mentor Dave Gillmore.  I was always told that getting into the industry was easy, but learning the right way of the trade was difficult because very few places wanted to invest their time in training aspiring chefs, like me.”  

Anyone interested in the Apprentice Scheme should submit applications by the 1st of September 2016, with interviews taking place in the days following. For more information, go to http://www.jamesstreetsouth.co.uk/about/apprenticeships.php

Declan Clarke