SHU has been one of Belfast’s best restaurants for over 18 years, creating award-winning dishes and nurturing world-class chefs able to work anywhere in the world. And this week sees them launch their hugely successful and highly coveted ‘SHU Chef Apprentice Programme’ in partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College.
Now in its second year, the Programme will give four budding cooks aged between 16-24, first-hand experience in working with the finest seasonal produce, in a professional kitchen with the very best chefs in the business. The partnership with Belfast Met means that the apprentices will also receive a City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery qualification.
The restaurant is owned and operated by Alan Reid and Head Chef, Brian McCann. Alan says they have launched the Programme “In a bid to find young, passionate people with a serious desire to enter the industry and to help shape the future of the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland and beyond.’
Located on the Lisburn Road, SHU is famed for its classical French and modern European-style cuisine, it held the title of Best Restaurant in Northern Ireland at the UK National Restaurant Awards for three consecutive years (2012-2014) and recently won Best Casual Dining in Ulster at the 2018 Irish Restaurant Awards amongst a host of other accolades.
The new Apprenticeship programme has been launched within SHU’s renowned ‘Centre for Cooking Excellence’, which is headed up by Brian a former Great British Menu star, who says following year one’s success, year two will be an even better version. He said: “We are just concluding our first year of the programme and we are so glad we did – it has been hugely successful, rewarding and has allowed us to find two exceptional young chefs who we have now offered a full-time job to.
“At SHU we are passionate about nurturing our team and our apprentices to help them to push their own boundaries in providing exceptional cooking for our guests.”
“I myself started out my career as an apprentice chef so I understand the challenges and apprehensions that young people have at the beginning. We have made this a fun, fantastic programme which is hard work, but also hugely rewarding and gets the apprentices right into the thick of it from day one.”
“We feel that there is a real shortage of skilled staff in the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland who want to further develop their cooking skills and to make a successful career of it.”
“We wanted to break the mould, and to show young people what a fantastic industry this is and with the right skills and training, we will give them the gift of being able to work anywhere in the world. We have had many young cooks through our kitchen, some of whom have gone on to work in some of the world’s most renowned restaurants.”
Brian concluded: “I want to urge any young cook who has a real passion and determination to succeed in this industry to get in touch and apply for this amazing opportunity. No experience is necessary, but the right attitude is essential.”
The SHU Chef Apprenticeship Programme is a one-year programme and will commence in September 2018. Students will spend three days working in the SHU kitchen learning classical French and Modern European-inspired cooking. They will also spend two days at college, learning the theory and practical elements of the job within the Belfast Met curriculum. The programme will be 35 hours per week and will be paid with Chef’s whites provided.
Christine Brown, Head of Belfast Business School at Belfast Metropolitan College said: “Belfast Met is delighted to be once-again involved in this partnership with SHU Restaurant.”
“Last year’s scheme was hugely successful and the two chefs who were successful have immensely enjoyed their time there and to be offered a job at the end of it is the icing on the cake.”
“These Apprentices will hopefully now receive their City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Professional Cookery, and of course the ‘money-can’t-buy experience’ that they have on their CV.”
Max Johnston, from the SHU Apprentice Programme 2017 intake said: “This has been a fantastic experience for me and one which I know I will value for the rest of my career.”
“I have learnt so much from Brian, Alan and the team and have now a real burning desire to continue to learn from the best in the business.”
“I feel honoured to be offered a full-time job at the end of what has been a brilliant year of learning and creating and having fun with food and would encourage any young person with a love of food and cooking to apply.”