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Aaron Duffy a Southern Regional College student has been announced as one of the five exceptional young chefs from across the UK who have made the grade for the Craft Guild of Chefs Graduate Awards recently held at the Lancaster Hotel in London.

Aaron from Beragh studied Foundation Degree Culinary Arts at Newry Campus and is Sous Chef at Grants Restaurant in Omagh.

Fiona Bradley SRC Head of School for Hospitality, Tourism, Business and Management, Barry Smyth SRC Lecturer, Aaron Duffy and Brian Doran SRC Chief Executive
Fiona Bradley SRC Head of School for Hospitality, Tourism, Business and Management, Barry Smyth SRC Lecturer, Aaron Duffy and Brian Doran SRC Chief Executive

The awards were launched in 2003 and are overseen by Paul Gayler MBE, chairman of examiners. The Graduate Awards formally recognise a young chef’s culinary excellence and test their knowledge in classical and modern skills and techniques in a series of culinary challenges in a pressured environment. This prestigious award is not only a formal recognition of a young working chef’s culinary excellence but is also an excellent accolade for the college and their mentor. 

Having made it through the initial selection process based on a written entry and mentor’s reference, Aaron competed in the semi-finals in Sheffield College. He progressed through to the finals held at University College Birmingham in August 2015.  Some of the UK’s leading chefs put the finalists through their paces testing their knowledge and practical ability which included a written exam, practical skills in butchery and fishmongery, mystery basket for a main course meal, classical dish and preparation of pastry dish. Finalists were required to achieve a mark of 85% to join an elite list of only 48 graduates out of 620 entrants since the commencement of the awards 12 years ago.

Awards co-ordinator Steve Munkley, executive head chef of the Royal Garden hotel in Kensington and vice president of the Craft Guild of Chefs, who presented the chefs with their certificates at a cocktail presentation evening at the Lancaster London, said “Each chef demonstrated great skills, as well as an understanding of what made great food. Every year, I’m truly amazed at the talent we are producing in the UK and this year’s graduates epitomise this perfectly, showing expertise beyond their years in the butchery and fishmongery tests, mystery basket challenge and creation of a classic main and dessert in the final exam.”

 

The awards  ceremony which was attended by hospitality professionals from across the UK and Ireland culminated with an additional award for SRC and college mentor Barry Smyth who received the ‘Excellence in Education’ award for the high level training, mentoring and support for Aaron during the graduate Award process.

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