On January 17th, Cavan Institute hosted the third annual Young Cook of the Year Competition. Getting bigger and better every year, Transition Year students and their teachers from secondary schools all over the county braced the icy conditions to take part in this fantastic event. The aim of this competition organised by Cavan Food Network in conjunction with Cavan County Council, Cavan Institute, and Cavan Monaghan Education and Training Board is to create an engaging activity that encourages secondary schools to promote Cavan food, aiming to educate and inform future generations about the importance of supporting our local food and drink industry. The project also encourages young people to explore and potentially enter a career within the hospitality sector currently delivered by CMETB within Cavan Institute.

This year there were some new entrants, with 8 schools participating in total. St. Clare’s College Ballyjamesduff, St. Patrick’s College Cavan, Loreto College Cavan, Bailieborough Community School, Coláiste Dún an Rí Kingscourt, Breifne College Cavan, Royal School Cavan and St. Aidan’s Comprehensive Cootehill. 88 students took part in their school’s inhouse competition, with the winning teams going forward to compete in the ‘Created in Cavan’ Schools Young Cook of the Year 2023 – 2024.

On the day, students prepared two courses, using as much produce from “Created in Cavan” members. Products from Lakeland Dairies, Herd Butchers, Morans Mega Jam, Forest Hill Farm, Muff Honey, Fitzpatrick Gourmet Ketchup, Corleggy Cheese, Cullys Craft Bakery, Ice Cream Treats and Áines Chocolates were used in the by the students. Dishes included enchiladas, creamy chicken and Corleggy cheese pasta, lemon cake, and loads more. Students had two hours to prepare, cook, and present their dishes to the three judges. Judging the dishes were Norbert Neylon, Chef Proprietor of The Oak Room Restaurant, Katrina Murphy from Katrina’s Artisan Cakes, and Irene Whelan, professional cookery tutor at Cavan Institute. Katrina Murphy noted the high standard from the students, while Irene Whelan said all of the students are winners in her eyes. Norbert Neylon thanked the teachers and commended the students saying, ‘I know it’s not easy for students coming in, walking into a kitchen that you’ve never cooked in before, it can be very daunting. So well done, you’ve done really well to get this far.’ Cllr Carmel Brady who has attended the event previously said ‘It’s great to be associated with this event, we have fabulous produce in Cavan, and the more we can PR that the better.’

L-R Katrina Murphy from Katrina’s Artisan Cakes, Norbert Neylon, Chef Proprietor of The Oak Room Restaurant and Irene Whelan, professional cookery tutor at Cavan Institute.
L-R Katrina Murphy from Katrina’s Artisan Cakes, Norbert Neylon, Chef Proprietor of The Oak Room Restaurant and Irene Whelan, professional cookery tutor at Cavan Institute.

The third place on the day went to Nina Wilczynski and Tierna Smyth from The Royal School, Cavan who prepared creamy chicken and Corleggy cheese pesto pasta and banana and chocolate pudding and ice cream. In second place were Jenna Smith and Niamh Boyle Drought from Loreto College, Cavan. They cooked a stuffed chicken breast with sundried tomato sauce with a chocolate brownie and ice cream for dessert. Judge Irene Whelan noted that ‘the chicken was cooked to perfection and the brownie ticked all the boxes.’ First place was awarded to new entrant, St. Aidan’s Comprehensive School Cootehill represented by Sarah Reynolds and Muireann Daly. They created chicken enchiladas and a lemon cake. The judges were impressed by the lovely blend of spices in the enchiladas. Each participant was gifted a Created in Cavan goodie bag.

St. Aidan’s Comprehensive School Cootehill and Loreto College, Cavan – First and second-place teams – will now compete in the Regional Final of Young Cook of the Year on the 17th of April and we wish them both the best of luck. For more information on how you can get involved with Created in Cavan as a food business, producer or food retailer, contact food@cavancoco.ie.