Northern Ireland news

The Irish News and Mount Charles launch second Big School Cook Off

St Joseph's College student Ella Geoghegan helps launch the Mount Charles and Irish News Big School Cook Off with Mount Charles managing director Cathal Geoghegan and Irish News marketing manager John Brolly

THE Irish News has again teamed up with food-service firm Mount Charles to find budding young chefs in the second annual Big School Cook Off.

Supported by Business in the Community, the contest aims to inspire young people to take an interest in cooking fresh, healthy meals based on budget-friendly, locally-sourced ingredients.

Pupils aged 11-14 from across Northern Ireland and Co Donegal can apply to take part.

The competition's first stage invites pupils in teams of two to create a recipe for a main course that will feed two people on a £5 budget.

Judges will shortlist the recipes and the successful teams will then take part in regional heats in January 2018 against other schools, where they will prepare their dishes.

The winning team from each county will go forward to cook their recipe at the grand final in March 2018 for the chance to be crowned the Mount Charles and Irish News Big School Cook Off Champions.

Each county winners will receive £200 of vouchers for their school and a cookery masterclass from Mount Charles group development chef Simon Toye – formerly executive chef at the Michelin-starred Deanes restaurant in Belfast.

The overall winners will receive £300 of vouchers for their school and a treat for their family – a meal at the award-winning George's of the Market restaurant and family tickets to see the Belfast Giants at the SSE Arena.

Irish News marketing manager John Brolly said it is an "excellent initiative by Mount Charles to get young people to take an interest in food".

"We are looking for school pupils to slice, dice and cook their way through a number of challenges so that they can walk away as winner of the Big School Cook Off," he said.

"The standard last time was amazing but the important aspect is the children had great fun taking part."

Cathal Geoghegan, managing director of Mount Charles, also said the first Cook Off was a "huge success, with an incredible standard of culinary talent".

"The feedback from participating schools was tremendous, with teachers stating that the competition allowed pupils to gain confidence in their cooking ability and gave them a greater interest in cookery in general, as well as an opportunity to enhance their team-working and time management skills," he said.

See for more details.

The deadline for entries has been extended to Friday November 10 but teachers who meet the early-bird deadline of October 11 will be entered into a prize draw for a £50 shopping voucher.

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