Eighteen year old Lauren McCracken from Comber and old Jordan Jenkins (17) from Ballyclare took part in the Culinary Ability Awards held as part of IFEX 2016 and won gold and silver respectively.Lauren has been a trainee with Dr B’s Kitchen for a year and a half and Jordan joined after leaving school seven months ago. Dr B’s is run by Barnardo’s children’s charity to train young people with learning disabilities for a career in the hospitality industry. It has been running for twenty five years and has an 80% success rate in placing its trainees in paid employment.
Lauren who won gold for her seared duck fillet accompanied with ravioli stuffed with orange and cardamom confit says the support from the staff and other trainees really helped: “I really wanted to take part in the competition and we had a cook off in Dr B’s to be selected. We had to put in a lot of extra work to perfect our dishes but we had great support from everybody. On the day it was amazing. I was overwhelmed by the support from everyone at Dr B’s, it brought tears to my eyes.”
Jordan who prepared a crisp pan fried salmon fillet with a Mediterranean potato, chorizo and fennel melody to take the silver award says taking part has increased his self-confidence: “When I heard about the competition it really appealed to me but at school I would never have gone for it, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to cook in front of so many people and judges but Dr B’s makes you feel you can do it. After I won the medal I had the confidence to go straight in and work on the pass back at Dr B’s which I had never done before.”
Dr B’s Chef/Mentor Andrew Gibb said: “We are delighted for Lauren and Jordan. They worked incredibly hard to perfect their dishes and were under a lot of pressure on the day competing against the other entrants and under the scrutiny of the judges with only 40 minutes from start to presentation, but they rose to the challenge and we are so proud of both of them.”
Both Lauren and Jordan became interested in cooking when they were young through their grandmothers and in the future Lauren would like to open her own bakery like her nanny had. Currently Jordan is continuing his training at Dr B’s while Lauren is due to start full time employment with the Sweet Tree Café in Dundonald.
Barnardo’s Dr B’s Kitchen trainee chefs Jordan Jenkins from Ballyclare and Lauren McCracken from Comber are celebrating after winning silver and gold medals respectively at the IFEX Culinary Ability Awards held recently at the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast. They are pictured with Dr B’s Chef/Mentor Andrew Gibb.
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