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‘The Graduate’ training restaurant and kitchen at the Southern Regional College in Newry was officially opened yesterday folowing a £600,000 ‘Graduate’ investment.

The refurbishment will power new careers and business support in food, hospitality and tourism locally and much further afield.

A...Head of their Game! - Brian Doran (SRC Chief Executive), with the three recipients of SRC Recognition Awards: David Meade, Alex Greene, Barry Smyth. Photograph: Aaron McCracken
A...Head of their Game! - Brian Doran (SRC Chief Executive), with the three recipients of SRC Recognition Awards: David Meade, Alex Greene, Barry Smyth. Photograph: Aaron McCracken

Confirming its reputation for excellence in hospitality and tourism the SRC officially opened the hatch on the new, ultra-modern training restaurant and kitchen with a evening of culinary delight for local business and political figures.

Business guests at the reopening of The Graduate. Front from left: Jonathan McQuade, Brian McConville, Paul Travers, Simon Dougan and Bernie Lively. Back: Gary Dooley, Gary McDowell, David Meade, John Matthews, Brian Doran and Justin McNulty. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Business guests at the reopening of The Graduate. Front from left: Jonathan McQuade, Brian McConville, Paul Travers, Simon Dougan and Bernie Lively. Back: Gary Dooley, Gary McDowell, David Meade, John Matthews, Brian Doran and Justin McNulty. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Creatively remodelled and newly-equipped to meet the critical training needs of a new generation of leaders in food preparation, production, safety and customer service, ‘The Graduate’ restaurant and kitchen will be key to underpinning the College’s chief role in delivering local and regional success in its support of the food, hospitality and tourism sectors.

Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education, Department for the Economy; Brian Doran, Chief Executive, SRC and James McGinn, Director, Hastings Hotels at the official re-opening of The Graduate Restaurant at the SRC. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education, Department for the Economy; Brian Doran, Chief Executive, SRC and James McGinn, Director, Hastings Hotels at the official re-opening of The Graduate Restaurant at the SRC. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Powering thousands of exciting careers and directly supporting award-winning businesses including Ireland’s largest hospitality group, Beannchor, Tayto NI, Linden Foods, ABP, Mourne Seafood and Yellow Door Deli, Southern Regional College already provides a comprehensive range of industry-related courses and apprenticeships opportunities.

Brian Doran, Chief Executive of Southern Regional College said the new state-of-the-art restaurant and kitchen was part of a wider programme designed to enhance its expertise in the sector and underpin its prowess in hospitality and culinary arts.

Brian Doran, right, Chief Executive, SRC with school principals, from left: Margo Cosgrove, St Mary's High School; Neil Megaw, Newtownhamilton High School; Marie Miller, St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen; Andrew Bell, Banbridge High School; Sandra Flynn, Lisnally Special School, Armagh and Ian McConaghy, Dromore High School. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Brian Doran, right, Chief Executive, SRC with school principals, from left: Margo Cosgrove, St Mary's High School; Neil Megaw, Newtownhamilton High School; Marie Miller, St Joseph's High School, Crossmaglen; Andrew Bell, Banbridge High School; Sandra Flynn, Lisnally Special School, Armagh and Ian McConaghy, Dromore High School. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

“Our hospitality, tourism, agri-food and food production sectors are critically important for the wider economy and for providing exciting job opportunities and career progression. Southern Regional College is steadfastly committed to ensuring that the skills, knowledge and experience are always immediately available to ensure that this can continue.

“With an extensive course and apprenticeship provision and proven excellence in supporting ambition, this important investment reflects our vision to further expand our enviable links and collaboration with businesses who themselves also remain committed to quality, growth and recognition for the hard work that they do.”

Head chefs Barry Smyth and Alex Greene, who both lead Michelin-starred local restaurants were on hand to launch the new restaurant and they along with ex student David Meade received recognition awards for their contribution to the hospitality industry.

Barry Smyth is currently the Managing Partner for the Yellow Door at Hillsborough Castle and also a former lecturer in Culinary Arts and Professional Cookery at Southern Regional College. Alex Greene, who is now Head Chef at Deanes Eipic, also worked at Claridge’s and Petrus in London – two of Gordon Ramsey’s flagship restaurants.

“Professionalism and experience are key and Southern Regional College is proud of what it has achieved and excited about what more will come,” Brian Doran said.

Broadcaster, speaker, ‘mentalist’ and lecturer David Meade, who hosted the event, also began his stellar career at Southern Regional College, where he too was enrolled on a course in hospitality.

SRC Newry Campus is the only Further Education college in Northern Ireland to offer the Foundation Degree in International Culinary Arts, which is the only qualification available to provide a career progression pathway for chef lecturers in Culinary Arts.

Michele Shirlow, the Chief Executive Officer at Food NI, which with a membership of over 450 companies is dedicated to enhancing the reputation of Northern Ireland’s vibrant food and drink industry, welcomed the latest investment.

SRC staff, governors, DFE re[resentative and award recipients at the reopening of The Graduate Restaurant. Front from left: Carolyn Davidson, Maggie Grant, Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education, Department for the Economy; Aidan McCormick and Carla Shields. Back from left: Barry Smyth; David Meade; Keith Kilpatrick, Fiona Bradley, Brian Doran, David Vint and Alex Greene. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
SRC staff, governors, DFE representative and award recipients at the reopening of The Graduate Restaurant. Front from left: Carolyn Davidson, Maggie Grant, Beverley Harrison, Director of Further Education, Department for the Economy; Aidan McCormick and Carla Shields. Back from left: Barry Smyth; David Meade; Keith Kilpatrick, Fiona Bradley, Brian Doran, David Vint and Alex Greene. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

“The aim to draw more visitors and boost employment opportunities can only be built on the provision of good skills and training – which is why investment in the sector is crucial. I’m delighted that Southern Regional College continues to support our local and regional food and hospitality industry with such commitment and I congratulate all the hardworking staff, students and businesses involved.”

Students and staff at Southern Regional College, which is also the only Further Education college to offer qualifications in Butchery and Food Manufacturing in Northern Ireland, have also been recognised locally, nationally and internationally with a string of awards for its leadership and commitment to a range of food-related sectors.

The College was awarded the Institute of Meat - Training Centre of the Year UK as well as triumphing at the recent WorldSkills UK competitions where they picked up 2 gold medals, 1 silver and 1 bronze medal.

Southern Regional College helps students turn their passion for food and hospitality into long-lasting, exciting careers that enable them to succeed in the work place with the essential skills and knowledge required to succeed in the hospitality and tourism sector.

The curriculum offer is delivered by experienced professionals and in collaboration with the College’s Innovation Specialists in the Business Support Unit which focuses on developing necessary industry skills and professional image sought by employers.

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