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Catering students showcase the right ingredients for success at IFEX 2024

South West College, Hospitality and Catering students from Omagh and Dungannon campuses are celebrating after providing the right ingredients for success when they secured a number of awards at the IFEX Exhibition, March 5-7, 2024 at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast.

IFEX is Northern Irelands premier hospitality and catering event, displaying the latest food and drink products, catering equipment, interiors, technology and services to food and retail and hospitality industries.

The Salon Culinaire, at IFEX is the largest and most prestigious Chef competition in Northern Ireland with more than 30 classes and hundreds of chefs competing.

Across three days, students from the College’s professional cookery, culinary, and hospitality courses competed with chefs across a range of Junior and Senior Salon categories, showcasing their technical skills and creativity and judged by the sector’s most respected industry experts.

The Inter-College Cook & Serve competition was an exciting opportunity to showcase both front of house and culinary expertise, and the Omagh Cook & Serve team were thrilled to place second in class and bring home silver medals and a beautiful trophy following their excellent performance. The same team made up of Ethan Donaghy, Patrik Papai – Chefs and Oudette Ferran, Leah Williams – Front of House, had also placed second in the prestigious Royal Navy Cook Serve competition in Bangor the previous week.

Students from the Dungannon Campus were also awarded several silver medals and certificates for individual performance across various categories.

Rebecca Stewart achieved Silver in the Student Culinarian, ably assisted by Sophie Currie as her Commis Chef. Rebecca presented a three-course meal and was commended for her innovative menu design and execution.

Ellen Willis was silver medallist in Risotto Ireland chef of the year – Risso Gallo is now one of the most respected culinary events for young chefs.

More success followed with Hannah Hall achieving silver in Classical Junior Chicken – a very popular and competitive category which demonstrates classical skills and techniques.

Niall Hughes also achieved silver medal and second place in Innovative starter.

Certificates of merit were awarded to Conor Maguire in the Senior Fish category and Robert Korzinins in the plated dessert cold display categories.

Curriculum Managers Tanya Purvis and Grainne Mulholland praised the students for their hard work and dedication, noting that events like IFEX provide valuable opportunities to showcase their talents. They commended the hard work of the staff who supported and prepared students for the competitions and were particularly delighted to see Ronan Kerr, a current SWC Culinary Arts Degree student - who himself was a World Skills Silver medallist and member of the UK culinary team - now working for IFEX as a World Skills ambassador.

Tanya added: “IFEX is a prestigious platform for our students to showcase their industry expertise and to see the work of the SWC staff and students being so widely acknowledged across the few days of the Salon Culinaire was excellent. These events challenge and stretch our students to ensure modern and innovative cuisine remain our focus and ensure local industry and wider tourism needs can be met, while enhancing student’s skillset.

SWC offers a range of courses in hospitality, patisserie and confectionery, food and beverage, professional cookery, and culinary arts, providing students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry.”

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