Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has dished out praise to an east Belfast cafe staffed by young people with special needs.
During the unexpected visit by the celebrity chef, workers at Level Ground Cafe, based in Dundonald’s Elim Church, welcomed the chef with a hot cuppa and a homemade muffin before taking him on a tour of the facilities.
Level Ground Cafe employs five people aged from 16 to 23, serving up delicious treats on a not-for-profit basis from 9am until 4pm, Monday to Saturday.
“People in Belfast have a duty to come here,” said Marco Pierre, who was on his third trip to Belfast.
“It’s certainly the nicest cup of tea and most perfect muffin I’ve had in a while – served, crisp, hot yet soft, with lashings of butter.
“The facilities here are excellent. The kitchen is spotless and the young people here are learning valuable skills and the artform of cooking.”
Eddie Patrick, head chef at the Park Avenue Hotel, where Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar and Grill is situated, volunteers with the young people, whose special needs vary from mild to severe:
“I volunteer to help the young people develop their skills and confidence in the kitchen, and it’s really pleasing to see how they benefit,” he said.
“They are all very enthusiastic and their talent for hospitality really shines through.
“It’s great to see the young people really enjoying the experience. Hopefully, it will help them get on the career ladder and maybe even work in the busy kitchen of the Park Avenue one day.”
“People have a duty to volunteer their money or their time at such a place as this,” said Mr Pierre White, who also told how he was kicked out of both Harrogate and Westminster catering training schools as a teenager.
“I don’t give advice as I believe it is patronising, but I do believe in living by a philosophy, and the philosophy of success, I believe, is luck,” he added.
“Luck is being given the opportunity. It’s an awareness of opportunity that makes one take advantage of that luck, and I would urge these young people to continue doing what they are doing and continue to be inspired.”
Source: Belfast Telegraph