A Carnmoney teenager who is carving out a career for himself as a chef got the opportunity to learn from one of the very best in the business.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Auld, a trainee chef with Barnardo’s Dr B’s Kitchen in Belfast, recently spent a week working at chef Anton Mosimann’s prestigious fine dining club in Belgravia, London.
The week-long trip was part of Michael’s prize for winning gold in the Ability Section at the national UK catering competition Hotelympia earlier in the year. The national win followed success in the all-Ireland IFEX catering competition held in March where he also won gold and was crowned overall winner.
Michael joined Barnardo’s Dr B’s Kitchen in Belfast as a trainee chef a year ago straight from school with no previous catering experience.
Dr B’s is a restaurant which has been training young people with learning disabilities for a career in the catering industry for over 21 years. It also offers certificates in Health and Safety and Food Hygiene and teaching up to NVQ to Level 2 Catering as well as Essential Skills Maths and English.
For the catering competitions Michael was coached by Dr B’s chef and mentor Andrew Gibb, who said: “Michael took to cooking straight away. He has a flair for it and was prepared to put in the practice and extra time it takes to compete in the competitions. To win gold awards in both competitions and to be announced overall winner at the IFEX was outstanding. I went with him to Mosimann’s for the week and it was brilliant to see his confidence grow. It has certainly opened up a new world of possibilities for him.”
Still buzzing from his week at Mosimann’s, Michael said: “Cooking is my life and working at Mosimann’s was amazing. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. On the first day I was helping prepare the starters, including salmon with fish eggs and herbs, alongside the other chefs. It was fantastic to be working in a Michelin starred restaurant. I learnt that it’s better to keep calm in the kitchen and that you produce better food if it’s not prepared under pressure. It also made we want to try baking and dessert making which I haven’t done before but now I would like to learn. It was all amazing and I learnt so much. I tried everything including octopus and beef tartare. Dr B’s and Andrew have given me the best year of my life.”
Chef Anton Mosimann said he was delighted to give an opportunity to such an enthusiastic young chef.
“I am delighted that Michael spent time in our kitchens. Working in a busy restaurant environment is crucial to the learning experience. It is important to interact with the other chefs and to ensure that everything is served perfectly cooked and beautifully presented. There isn’t a margin for error and I am sure Michael will benefit from his apprenticeship,” he commented.
Michael is currently on work experience at Olio restaurant in Belfast city centre but hopes to take up a placement at Mosimann’s in a couple of years time.