From education to employment

Local college prepare to host unique Meet the Chefs event

South Eastern Regional College (SERC) Bangor Campus is preparing to host a ‘Meet the Chefs’ event to showcase the hospitality industry on 23 October from 6:30pm-10pm.

The theme for the event is Food NI’s Taste the Greatness, and it will involve a cadre of top local chefs working with students to create original and delicious dishes from locally sourced ingredients.

Guests will get the opportunity to meet the chefs who will be plating up during the evening including; Michael Deane of EIPIC, which has just retained its Michelin Star, along with Jay Eisenstadt of the Stormont Hotel, part of Hastings Hotels, Tony O’Neill, founder of Coppi, II Pirata and Buba restaurants in Belfast, Robert McDonald of Bushmills Inn, Colin McCreedy, La Mon Hotel, and Cathal Duncan of The Boat House in Bangor.

The unique ‘Meet the Chef’ dinner, organised by SERC with support from Food NI and a host of impressive sponsors will bring together the local hospitality industry and Further Education sector as part of the “Our Industry, Our Future, Our Responsibility” initiative to safeguard the Industry’s future.

The evening will be compared by Paula McIntyre MBE. Sponsors include Hastings Hotels, Henderson Foodservice, Hannan Meats, Keenan’s and several smaller food processors such as Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt, Jawbox Gin, Baronscourt Brewery and Irish Black Butter.

Paul Mercer SERC deputy head of school for hospitality said “The aim of the event is to raise the profile of the industry while at the same time celebrating our world class local produce.  We must encourage more young people to grasp the opportunities opening in the hospitality sector here, especially with the current and projected growth in tourism that is producing the rapid expansion of hotels and restaurants. We must continue to strengthen its skills systems to meet future demand and avoid being outpaced by international competitors. It’s not just that there is a chronic shortage of chefs, there are gaps for other staff right across the industry.

“Skilled chefs are already in great demand both here and abroad. There are tremendous opportunities in hotels and restaurants for qualified people. And people with the right qualifications can travel the world” he says.

Michele Shirlow, Food NI chief executive, welcomes the SERC initiative to raise the profile of the hospitality industry and to strengthen links with producers “Our tourism industry is exceeding expectations and is stimulating the expansion of our hotels and restaurant infrastructure. Tourists are being drawn increasingly by our growing reputation as a destination offering great food and drink. Our meats, dairy and seafood are seen as being world class … and they certainly are. We are delighted to be working with SERC on this exciting event and on wider efforts to promote what is an immensely important part of our economy” she says.

The event is expected to book up quickly. Tickets are £60 per person for a unique six-course meal and are available from Nicola Johnston. Nicola can be contacted on 028 91276781 or via email

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