Big School Cook Off Competition returns for 4th year with SuperValu on board once again

Form 8 pupils Sophia Little and Eva Bagnall, from Aquinas Diocesan Grammar, join Noel McMeel, Executive Head Chef of Lough Erne Resort, Caitriona Lennox, Mount Charles’ Business Development Manager, Brendan Gallen, Head of Marketing at SuperValu and James Street South owner and Head Chef Niall McKenna to help launch this year’s Mount Charles Big School Cook Off Competition, in association with SuperValu.[/caption]

The annual Mount Charles Big School Cook Off Competition, in association with SuperValu, launches with top chefs in NI calling for students interested in cooking, to get involved.

The competition, now in its fourth year, is open to all post primary school pupils across Northern Ireland and Donegal, aged between 11 and 14.

Young people in teams of two are challenged to submit a main course recipe idea that feeds two, focusing on locally sourced ingredients that can be bought on a budget of a tenner, or euro equivalent.

The recipes will be shortlisted on Friday 22nd of November, one per county, and the winning team from each county will progress to cook their recipe for an esteemed panel of judges at the grand finale of the competition next March, in Belfast Met’s Titanic Quarter Campus. County finalists will also be invited to perform a cookery demonstration of their dish, at their local SuperValu store in January, ahead of the final.

Launching this years’ competition, Mount Charles’ Business Development Manager, Caitriona Lennox said:

“This competition is first and foremost an exercise in addressing the serious skills gap in the food service industry in Northern Ireland, by encouraging the next generation of potential young chefs to learn about food provenance and get cooking. We want to support kids with a passion for cooking and give them an insight into the hospitality industry. We’re hoping it will inspire them to consider a career in foodservice and we’ll do what we can to support their future training and skills development.

“Teacher feedback has been amazing, and the competition is growing year on year. Schools are taking part because of the experience it offers the pupils, as well as the great prizes on offer and the kudos of winning the biggest and most prestigious cooking competition in the schools’ calendar,” she said.

Brendan Gallen, Head of Marketing at SuperValu said:

“SuperValu is delighted to be involved once again in this great initiative giving our top young foodies a chance to showcase their talents. Good luck to everyone entering and we look forward to welcoming the regional finalists to their local SuperValu for live demos next year.”

Speaking on behalf of NI chefs championing the competition, Executive Head Chef of Lough Erne Resort, Noel McMeel said:

“We are delighted to lend our support to this initiative, it’s our duty to connect and do more within hospitality and show the next generation of catering professionals how rewarding this industry can be. We’re encouraging pupils aged between 11 and 14 to go to their teachers and tell them you want to be involved. We’ve also shared our best advice in interviews that will run throughout the competition registration period on Belfast Live, to inspire students who want to join our industry. Cooking for the judges in the grand final will also be a wonderful experience and could open the doors to a fantastic future in catering.”

This year teams are asked to submit their recipe ideas by uploading a word document or a video to detailing their recipe choice, locality and seasonality of their ingredients and how they researched and tested their dish.

Full competition terms and conditions can be found at



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