Eight gold medals for GMIT students at Catex 2015

Gold medal and overall winners of the Cook and Serve national competition at Catex 2015, (l-r): GMIT lecturer Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, students Marek Hajduk, Shane Austin, Patrycja Sadowska, Aisling Lee, GMIT lecturer Frank O’Connor, student Cezary Sodel, and lecturer Brian Morrissey.

Gold medal and overall winners of the Cook and Serve national competition at Catex 2015, (l-r): GMIT lecturer Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, students Marek Hajduk, Shane Austin, Patrycja Sadowska, Aisling Lee, GMIT lecturer Frank O’Connor, student Cezary Sodel, and lecturer Brian Morrissey.

Students in GMIT’s College of Tourism & Arts have once again swept the awards board at Catex 2015, one of the biggest national culinary competitions and networking events in the Irish food service industry.

GMIT students took home eight gold medals, with 11 overall winner titles in a variety of culinary categories during the event in the RDS, Dublin, last week. A team of students also won the national Hygiene Award over the three days with a perfect score of 100 per cent.

Catex, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is a major networking hub for trendspotting, masterclasses, culinary challenges, and championship titles including Chef Ireland, Irish Cocktail Championship, and the College Student Team Competition, known as Cook and Serve.

GMIT entered 23 students across almost all of the competition’s individual categories including meat and fish dish, breakfast, vegan menu, novelty cake, and wedding cakes. In addition a group of GMIT students entered the college team event — the Cook and Serve contest where a team of three chefs and two servers are given two and a half hours to prepare and present a three course meal to 10 guests and two judges.

The GMIT Cook and Serve team, tutored by GMIT lecturers Frank O'Connor, Brian Morrissey, and Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, won the top prize of Gold Medal and Overall Winner title. They are Patrycja Sadowska and Aisling Lee, both second year students on the BA in hotel management, and Shane Austin, Marek Hajduk, and Cezary Sodel, students on the Total Immersion Chef Programme.

They showcased a range of skills including a flambé course and Dingle Gin Irish speciality coffee. Their menu was themed to showcase seasonal and local produce from the Wild Atlantic Way.

Two students won three gold medals in separate categories — Rebecca Wynne, BB in culinary arts (year 2 ) won gold for her chicken dish; and Elaine Boyle, BA in culinary arts (year 2 ) won gold for her wedding cake and gold and Overall Winner title for her novelty cake.

GMIT students also took home eight silver medals, eight bronze, and 10 certificates of merit. Several hundred students from third level colleges around Ireland competed in the event.

Gerry Talbot, head of department, said GMIT had the highest number of entries compared to previous years, and the most wins. “These competitions are great experiences for our students and a great endorsement of the quality of our programmes,” he added.

“We’re delighted too with the hygiene award and the 100 per cent score. The practices in our learning environment have instilled in our students the importance of hygiene, as was evident during the competition, as best hygiene practices are embedded into our programmes.”

Cait Noone, head of the College of Tourism and Arts, said: “Students from GMIT throughout the three days performed to the very highest of standards and we are incredibly proud of their achievements. I am also enormously grateful to the hard working and talented team of lecturing staff in the College of Tourism and Arts who continually go above and beyond to ensure our students are constantly acquiring new and relevant industry knowledge and skills. This ensures students not only leave GMIT with the best of qualifications, but are also industry ready to work in the ever expanding tourism and food sector in Ireland.”

For more information about programmes in the GMIT College of Tourism and Arts, see www.gmit.ie/college-tourism-and-arts/college-tourism-arts

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