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Skillet Programme
gives an insight into
the culinary world
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the College on St Stephen's
Green was transformed into a `one night only' pop-up
restaurant, the culmination of the Skillet Culinary Training
Programme which took place in partnership with REACH RCSI.
The overarching aim of the Skillet Programme is to enhance the
life chances of young people from Dublin's inner city who have
been disadvantaged by a lack of employment opportunities,
through introducing them to the finest of Dublin's culinary
world and offering them the chance to develop the skills
involved in restaurant and hospitality management. In addition
to being trained by some of Ireland's premier chefs and
front-of-house professionals, participants were exposed to a
myriad of suppliers, producers and food markets. They also
visited some of Dublin's finest eateries to sample their wares,
learn about the food and hear the personal journey of each
restaurateur from their beginnnings to where they are today.
Partners in the programme included Dublin's YMCA, food
writers, kitchen instructors, a culinarian and front-of-house
experts. Also mentoring the group were two of Dublin's best
chefs: Derry Clarke of L'Ecrivain and Ross Lewis of Chapter One
(both Michelin star restaurants).
Throughout their training, the team learned everything from
how to pick the perfect green papaya at an Asian food market
to how to serve and appreciate the finest cheeses. In the
process, the five also experienced the thrill of working as a
team, being creative and completing the tough job of hosting,
cooking and serving a six-course, gourmet meal.
After the intensive training programme and a long day's
preparation in the kitchen, the Skillet participants treated their
guests to a fantastic night of gourmet food. Guests on the
night included friends and family members of the participants
and ranged from individuals in local businesses who had
contributed to the programme to members of the national
Speaking after the event, Maria Kelly, REACH RCSI Programme
Manager, said: "Skillet is such a worthwhile project and I
am delighted to be part of it; it has been a hugely positive
experience for both participants and collaborators.
Unemployment affects nearly 30 per cent of young adults
nationally and the percentage is much higher for those from
a disadvantaged background. This has been a valuable
opportunity for these participants to gain experience and
insight into the culinary world of Dublin at the top level and
much coveted work placement opportunities are now available
to them."
Skillet Programme participants: Emma Brooker, Keith Nolan,
Christopher Griffin, Marsha Gantley and Matthew Culleton.
What the participants said:
"Experiments are clearer now; I
understand them a lot better."
"In school we only did the theory but
here I actually did the experiment and
it was fun and helpful."
Now in its second year, the "See it, Do it" Biology Series
is an initiative which aims to support the teaching of
Leaving Certificate Biology in link schools by providing
local students with an opportunity to get hands-on
experience of the mandatory practical activities from the
Leaving Certificate curriculum.
The participants worked in small groups in the RCSI
laboratory, watched the practical being demonstrated
and then conducted each activity themselves, guided
by RCSI demonstrators. The series covered activities
relating to: the cardiovascular system, osmosis, a
qualitative food test, production of alcohol by yeast,
DNA isolation from plant tissue and the examination of
animal and plant cells with a light microscope.
It is hoped that in addition to the valuable hands-on
experience of carrying out the experiments, students
were able to take away a taste for a career in science, as
well as getting a real insight into life at college.
This collaborative initiative was led by the REACH RCSI
Programme Manager, Maria Kelly, and Avril Doyle,
Project Worker, in partnership with Dr Maria Morgan,
MCT, John O'Brien, Department of Anatomy, and Kate
McQuaid, Division of Biology.
Participants in the "See it, Do it" Biology Practical Programme.
Jack Feeney and David Murray from St. Enda's Primary School,
Whitefriar Street, with Aileen Murphy, RCSI Pharmacy student
(centre) at the 2014 REACH RCSI Sports Day which took place in
April 2014.