Students from the Northern Regional College in Ballymoney landed the top catch at this week’s celebrity backed seafood cook-off in Belfast to mark Seafood Week.

The Big College Seafood Cook-Off, held at Mourne Seafood Bar and Cookery School in Belfast, was hailed as a celebration of the local seafood industry and set up to inspire future generations to cook more often using seafood.

Six catering colleges from across Northern Ireland took part in a seafood masterclass with a host of top local chefs who were then on hand to provide mentoring as the teams went head to head to produce a series of stunning seafood dishes.

Notable culinary stars from the day included Andy Rea, Stephen Jeffers and Wayne Carville of the Mourne Seafood Bar and Cookery School, while Danny Millar of Balloo Inns, Paula McIntyre of Radio Ulster and Raymond McArdle of Maisons Restaurant were also in attendance. Each of the six chefs mentored a college to prepare a seafood dish using locally caught products.

Winning students Cameron Ashcroft and Racheal Finch, mentored by Chef Wayne Carville from Mourne Seafood, landed first place with a pan fried plaice with braised lentils, pancetta and vegetables. Judges praised their excellent workflow and preparation and the meld of flavours.

Winning students Cameron Ashcroft and Racheal Finch

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Their winning dish of pan fried plaice with braised lentils, pancetta and vegetables

Racheal said: “I’m so happy that we’ve won. It was a bit overwhelming at first but it was great surprise to come first. We didn’t know what chef we would be working with until we got here but it was great to work with Wayne. We had a difficult dish but we learnt loads from him.”

Dr Lynn Gilmore, Northern Ireland Manager at Seafish who organised the event for SeafoodWeek, said: “It’s fantastic to see great local talent using great local ingredients such Dublin Bay prawns, plaice, mackerel and crab, while also promoting the many health benefits of seafood.

“The fishing industry in Northern Ireland has a very strong presence and we hope the cook-off event, and Seafood Week in general, will help to inspire people to use seafood more often.”

The aim of Seafood Week is to get more people, to eat more seafood, more often promoted by Fish is the Dish, the consumer face of Seafish, the industry authority on seafood.

Visit seafoodweek.co.uk for a heap of information on buying, preparing and cooking with seafood as well as plenty of supermarket and restaurants offers going on throughout the week.

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