Tasty Taster Session in Northern Regional College’s Professional Kitchen


Hospitality pupils from Ballycastle enjoyed a ‘taster’ session in one of Northern Regional College’s Professional Cookery classes at the College’s Ballymoney campus. The Year 12 pupils from Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College got a chance to try out their culinary skills in College’s well equipped professional kitchen, under the watchful eye of their mentors – students in the Level 3 Professional Cookery (Preparation and Cooking) class.

With an international flavour to the mentors, Cross and Passion pupil, Megan Getty was delighted when she was paired with Italian Gaetano Bonora who gave her the ‘thumbs up’ for her pizza making skills. 

“He was very helpful and gave me lots of tips. I think I’d be a lot more confident now making pizza by myself.”

Since coming to live in Coleraine a few years ago, Gaetano has launched his own business, La Dolce Via. Regulars to the food markets across Northern Ireland will be familiar with his mouth watering range of fresh pasta, sauces and traditional Italian dishes like pizza, lasagne, ravioli and cannelloni.

Another international student is Michael Zalawai. Originally from Poland, Michael, who is now working in the Follow Coffee Co in Ballymena, worked as a mechanic before coming to Northern Ireland.

“I’m really enjoying the Professional Cookery course. Now that I’m working in the industry, I needed to be up to date on all the food safety requirements and health and safety regulations.

“Doing the course is also great way for me to learn new skills and experiment with preparing different kinds of food to what I was used to in Poland.” 

Daryl Napier, works as a chef at the Fed and Watered Restaurant at Belfast International Airport, says deciding to do the Professional Cookery course was ‘one of his better decisions in life’.

“I used to work in the hotel sector doing front of house but knew that if I wanted to progress, I needed to get some qualifications under my belt so this was a perfect opportunity for me.”

Hospitality lecturer Jane McAuley says school visits are an ideal opportunity for the College to showcase courses that will prepare people for a successful career in the hospitality sector, as well as encouraging school leavers to consider catering as a career choice.

“There are lots of exciting opportunities for people with the right mix of skills, experience and qualifications. Most students in our Professional Cookery classes are already working in the industry but want to get a recognised qualification to help with their career progression.”

Jane continued: “There are many rewarding career pathways open to good chefs. As well as working in the traditional hospitality sector in the likes of restaurants, bars and hotels, there are employment opportunities in different work environments, such as cruise ships, nursing homes, hospitals and schools.


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