Yesterday, July 6th, the first graduates of Chef Start celebrated completing the course at a ceremony held in the KSG Training Academy in Finglas, Dublin.
Chef Start is a new initiative funded by KSG Catering and Taste 4 Success Skillnet in liaison with the Department of Social Protection. The new programme was founded by John Halligan, Minister of State for Training, Skills and Innovation to tackle unemployment by providing opportunities for people on the live register to train as chefs.
Eight participants completed the eight week course where they trained two days a week at the dedicated KSG Training Academy and were placed on work experience two days a week in designated KSG restaurants. Many of the graduates have now secured full time positions with KSG Catering, Ireland’s largest Irish owned food service provider.
KSG added the course to its programme in order to tackle the massive chef shortage that Ireland is facing right now and provides passionate people on the live register with the opportunity to develop a new career in food.
The participants graduated yesterday with City & Guilds 7138 Culinary Skills Level 1 Certificates, presented to them at the graduation ceremony by Minister Halligan who commented, “The development of the Taste4Success Skillnet Chef Start Job-seekers Support Programme was funded under the Skillnets Future Skills Needs Programme, which supports the creation of new innovative solutions to identified skills needs for priority sectors. It is an excellent example of how Skillnets networks support industry by offering relevant, effective conversion programmes in a timely manner to address skills shortages. In this case, job-seekers received training in chef skills, which has been identified by the Government as a priority area within the hospitality and catering sector, and one which is key for economic growth.”
Chef John Relihan attended the ceremony as a special guest, having tread a similar path in the lead up to his success. Kerry native Relihan applied to be part of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Apprentice Programme when he was 17, trained with the top chef and went on to be Oliver’s head chef before returning to Munster to act as Head Chef at his new restaurant, Holy Smoke in Cork City.
Michael Gleeson, Managing Director of KSG Catering, said: “I would like to congratulate our first graduates from the Chef Start programme. We are delighted to announce that due to the success of the pilot programme we will continue to run Chef Start on a regular basis here at KSG HQ.”
Sylviana Grad, one of the graduates, has earned a full time position with KSG Catering in Dublin Airport, Alcock & Brown. As a mother of two she had found herself out of work in 2014. Having worked in the food and hospitality sector she was keen to improve her skills and become a chef. She said: “I have learned so much at Chef Start. I was keen to develop proper techniques and processes for cooking and was overwhelmed with the support and mentoring I received over the duration of the course. My skills have really improved through the training and real life experience in the KSG restaurants. I am thrilled to have earned a full time job as a chef with KSG.”