Opening of Home Economics Suite

Last Tuesday marked the opening of the new Home Economics suite at Dalriada by Chef, Broadcaster and former pupil Paula McIntyre.  This new state-of-the-art suite allows Dalriada to have a new permanent home after many years using the facilities at the NRC campus in Ballymoney.

The new complex includes two cooking areas and two classrooms each with extensive computer facilities.

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To celebrate the opening of the new facility, the Home Economics department wanted to do something really special that would involve as many pupils as possible.  With such interest in the recent television programme it was decided to hold ‘The Great Dalriada Bake –Off’.  Pupils were invited to submit their entries for their ‘Showstoppers’ – forty excited pupils from first to sixth year were keen to be crowned The Great Dalriada Baker! Mrs Assumpta McGonigle, Head of Department and Mrs Dawne Huey, teacher of Home Economics had a difficult decision ahead.  Finally, after much consideration and anticipation the names of the 7 finalists were posted up around the school.  The school was buzzing with excitement and Paula McIntyre, BBC broadcaster, journalist, chef, lecturer and past pupil was to be the judge.

On the day of the opening the 7 finalists, Alice McMullan; Kate Beattie; Josh Watson; Lydia Walsh; Peter Smith; Cait Kirkpatrick and Emma Chestnutt arrived with all their ingredients, cake stands etc to prepare their creations in the new state-of-the-art practical room. Invited guests included the proud parents; principals of the local Ballymoney Primary Schools; members of the Board of Governors and other associates of the school. Guests checked in on the progress of the bakers before moving into the second practical room where other pupils had prepared top notch canapés and drinks. This gave Paula time to chat to pupils and put them at ease as they put the finishing touches to their creations.

Guests then assembled for the final judging. Mr Brian Dillon, Chair of the Board of Governors formally introduced Paula McIntyre. Those used to hearing Paula on her regular slot on Radio Ulster’s Saturday Magazine were not disappointed by her witty, charming and amusing address. Most importantly, she said she was bowled over by the high standards of skill and professionalism she had witnessed over the morning from pupils so young. She and Mrs McGonigle had the pleasure of tasting all the wonderful cakes before a final announcement was made. Paula said ‘this is such a difficult decision as you have all been amazing but in terms of flavour and seasonality I have to go with Emma Chestnutt’s Apple Cake served with Blackberry coulis’. Emma had chosen an autumn theme having decorated her cake with handmade chocolate trees with red apples lying on the green ‘grass’ icing.

Emma was presented with an engraved glass cake stand and a generous voucher from Ground coffee shop. All finalists were then presented with a signed copy of Paula’s recipe book, ‘A Kitchen Year’.

Following this Paula unveiled a plaque in the foyer of the new building to mark the occasion. Mr Tom Skelton, Principal of Dalriada School closed the proceedings by thanking staff and pupils for their hard work in making the official opening such a joyous occasion.  He paid tribute to the Home Economics team of Mrs. McGonigle, Mrs. Huey and Mr. McGinty for their vision, drive and commitment during the construction of the Home Economics suite.  Mr. Skelton concluded by stating that the future development of Home Economics looked extremely positive and exciting.Dalriada Open new Home Economics Suite.