by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Belfast Met has been celebrating after eight future chefs completed its first NI Chef Bootcamp. All the participants are progressing into employment in our local hospitality industry.


 

During the programme participants attended practical masterclasses including fish mongering and butchery at Belfast Met. They learned essential customer service and business skills for the hospitality industry and gained experience training at the College’s commercial training kitchen.

 

NI Chef Bootcamp is a collaboration between the six further education colleges of Northern Ireland and is funded by the Department for Economy under the Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP).

 

The participants joined the four week NI Chef bootcamp at the College to explore a career in the local hospitality and tourism sector and have now gained qualifications, skills and industry experience to prepare them to work in a commercial kitchen. Here they were put through their paces to gain industry relevant qualifications in food safety and allergen awareness. They also completed industry placements in a range of local hospitality businesses including hotels, bars, and restaurants.

 

Tony O’Neill, owner of Coppi and Buba, said: “It has been fantastic to be involved with this programme from the start and to witness the great success it has become. The response from the outset has been really positive in terms of participant numbers and the enthusiasm they have shown.

 

“It’s great to see people who had initially went down a different road in terms of their career but had an interesting in becoming a chef and have taken this amazing opportunity to change career paths. It has made me really hopeful that we are attracting more people, and the right people, into the hospitality industry.”

 

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said: “I am delighted Belfast Met’s NI Chef Bootcamp has been so successful to date and that the feedback from industry has been really positive.

 

“This pilot scheme, which was funded through my Department’s Economic Recovery Action Plan, was developed to help meet the current and growing demand for chefs in Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector. To hear that participants are coming out the other side and securing full-time and part-time jobs means that this partnership working between the FE colleges and employers is achieving exactly what we had hoped for.

 

“My Department will continue to invest in skills across a range of specific interventions and actions to ensure that people across Northern Ireland can avail of new and better employment opportunities, as we continue our journey towards full economic recovery.”

 

Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive at Belfast Met, said, “The NI Chef Bootcamp is an excellent example of how the College is collaborating with industry. This is especially important in the hospitality industry which has faced so many challenges during the pandemic. Meeting the aspiring chefs who participated and seeing and tasting their work was a real highlight for me.

“Covid 19 has transformed the way we live, work and learn. The College has demonstrated agility in responding to shifting economic demand by supporting growth in a range of technical and employability skills. Collaboration is the essential ingredient to get the best results for individual learners and to have a wider impact on supporting inclusive and economic growth.

“We are very proud to have supported the participants who have developed in-demand skills in such a short period of time and who are now equipped to move into rewarding careers.”

 

Rebecca, Former NI Chef Bootcamp participant with Coppi and The Alchemy, confirmed: “I am very grateful and thankful for the opportunity to participate in the programme. I have found a job I care about and look forward to progressing to the Level 2 Professional Cookery course. I want to thank the College and the employer who have given me the confidence to follow my dreams.”

 

Other employers who participated in the NI Chef Bootcamp include Titanic Hotel,

AC Marriott Hotel, Horatio Todds, Northern Whig, The Alchemy, The Chubby Cherub and AM/PM.

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Terry Park, Business Interventions Division, Department for the Economy and Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive at Belfast Met.

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