Cooking up hope for the future in Killarney

National Commis Chef Apprenticeship programme participants.
Picture: Domnick Walsh

Culinary apprentices from across Ireland gathered at the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, to compete in the National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Competition on Wednesday.

Organised by the Kerry Education and Training Board, in partnership with the Irish Hotel Federation and other industry stakeholders, the event displayed exceptional culinary skills but also shed light on a crucial solution to Ireland’s ongoing hospitality staff crisis.

The participating apprentices represented a diverse cross-section of emerging talent from several Education Training Board locations and it showcased a melting pot of creativity and passion.

Emer Corridan: Panel

Beyond the competition, the event offered an opportunity for those in attendance to gain valuable insights into the world of apprenticeship. Live cookery and display competitions were complemented by inspiring talks from prominent figures in the culinary world to address the current challenges faced by the hospitality sector.

Among the highlights were guest speakers Mike Tweedie, head chef of the Oak Room, and Eddie Attwell, head chef of Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff who both told how the Commis Chef Apprenticeship programme played a pivotal role in growing their teams, offering a tangible success story for businesses considering similar initiatives.

Gary Dolan and Natasha Kennedy at their creative best

A panel discussion featured culinary leaders John Drummond of the Gleneagle Hotel, Brendan Byrne, Lagom, Kenmare, Emer Corridan of the Cahernane House Hotel and Odhran Lucey of the Rose Hotel in Tralee who all underscored the importance of mentoring and training the next generation of chefs.

As Ireland grapples with a shortage of skilled hospitality staff, the Killarney event served as a beacon of hope, showcasing tangible solutions that not only nurture emerging talent but also address the pressing needs of the industry.

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