BA (Hons) in Culinary Art, 2016
LYIT Culinary Arts graduate Triona Egan has just finished a graduate research internship with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Sea Fisheries Authority, and it’s all because of a salmon! Well that and several months intensive research on product development at LYIT’s Killybegs campus.
Triona was in the fourth and final year of her BA (Hons) in Culinary Arts degree when she began the product development module at Killybegs. Aware of the possibility of the internship with BIM and knowing their close links with LYIT, she decided to choose a seafood project. “The idea came from talking to someone who hated the taste of salted fish as they had been fed it throughout their childhood,” she says. “It occurred to me there might be a sweet way of preserving fish, so my project was to develop a candied salmon.”
Several months of development followed, including five or six weeks of trials in the campus’s state-of-the-art kitchens. Triona would make various versions of the candied salmon and asked students and staff to participate in blind tastings. Further adjustments would be made each week after considering their feedback. “There was a process of gradual refinement,” she says, “so that by the end it was a very different product to the one we started with, even though at the beginning I thought it was perfect!”
One of the key stages was the shelf-life testing. Thanks to LYIT’s good relationship with companies in the Killybegs area, Triona was able to use a local microbiological testing facility. Once the tests were finished Triona drew on the skills she had learned during the marketing module she took in her first semester to design the packaging. It had to be vac-packed for longevity and Triona chose bright colours so it would stand out. At all times she drew on advice and support from her lecturers. She decided to call her product ‘Bradán Feasa’ - Irish for ‘salmon of knowledge’.
The hard work paid off. The presentation on the candied salmon Triona gave to BIM when they visited Killybegs won her the graduate research internship.
“It was a very exciting opportunity,” Triona says. “I was based at Clonakilty and was also paired up with an Irish seafood company as part of the internship. Even though I love the teamwork and camaraderie of working in a kitchen, I wanted to specialise in product development which was an incredible experience.”
Although she never planned to be a chef, Triona loved the first two years of her course, which focused on cooking skills. “The kitchens are superb and there is a working restaurant where students prepare the menu, cook and serve.”
But for the future, her experience with the ‘salmon of knowledge’ has inspired her to explore the world of food product development.
The future looks bright for Triona who has recently started as New Product Development Chef at Karro Food Group, one of the leading pork processors in the United Kingdom.