Head chef Barry O’Brien, a man totally unflustered when preparing lavish banquets for large gatherings of VIP guests at Derry’s Beech Hill Country House Hotel, was just a little bit nervous when facing 60 teenagers at the city’s St. Cecilia’s College this week.
Barry, (28), went to the college to give the students a cookery demonstration and talk about his experiences in kitchens all around Ireland. He was brought up in Derry’s Ardmore district and his first job was as a junior chef at Beech Hill, less than a mile from home. Then he went off to spend the next 10 years developing his skills at other top class hotels and restaurants in Belfast and Dublin before returning to the kitchen where he started out.
While Barry cooked up a mushroom, squash and cheese risotto he told his young audience about safe cooking, the importance of hygiene and his most important message – always taste the food you have cooked before serving it to your guests. Better to make some changes and keep them waiting than have them all complain later.
Head of the School of Hospitality, May Maguire, said: “It has been an invaluable session for everyone here. To get so much first hand information from such a talented chef is really wonderful and we all enjoyed Barry’s visit to St. Cecelia’s.”
Said Barry:” The students were all great. There were attentive and asked some really intelligent questions. I hope some of them go on to become chefs when they finish full time education – it’s a great job”.
The school visit was held in conjunction with Foyle School Employer Connections.