Irish Secondary Schools ‘Rocketing’ to success as winners of Ireland’s Young Food Entrepreneur competition are announced

Today the 7 students of first and second-year from Colaiste Ghobnait on Inisheer Island were crowned Grow to CEO 2018 champions at Grow HQ Waterford. The winning team along with five other teams were chosen from over 7,000 student entries by a panel of judges which included Cully, Sully, Michael Kelly from GIY and special guest judge, wellness and food author Rozanna Purcell. The secondary school finalists from all across the country battled it out at a coveted ‘Dragon’s Den’ style final today at Grow HQ in Waterford.
Earlier in the year each secondary school across Ireland were challenged by GIY and Cully & Sully to enter the ‘Grow 2 CEO’ competition and combine their food growing and entrepreneurial skills by gorwing rocket, following a series of challenges, growing their own food and using it to devise a delicious soup recipe along with a complimentary branding and a marketing for their new enterprise.
Six schools and teams were shortlisted in the challenge, being: Blackwater Community School in County Waterford, Colaiste Ghobnait in County Galway, Cnoc Mhuire in County Longford, Errigal College in County Donegal, St Augustine’s college in County Waterford and St Colman’s Community College in County Cork. All teams (May 17th) presented their business plan at a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style showcase at GIY’s national food education centre ‘GROW HQ’ in Waterford City. The students showcased their business idea to the judges. During the showcase, the judges carried out a series of taste tests and learned the business plans developed by the students.
The winning team of Jackie Ni hUallachain, Aoibhin Ni Chonghaile, Patrick O’Domhnaill, Jack O’Domhnaill, Aoife Ni Chonaill, Alex Burtenshaw and Michael Finn from Colaiste Ghobnait were selected and crowned the overall champions. Commenting on the occasion their teacher Sharon O’Donnell said, “I am so proud of the dedication and the hard work that all of the students put into this competition , their commitment to learning how to and growing their own food is inspirational, the students and I would like to thank the Islanders and the community of Inisheer for sharing their vast knowledge of using local seaweeds and growing food on the island organically and more.”
The winning students were awarded a prize pot of €5,000 which includes a €3,000 food garden for their school on Inisheer Island, an iPad for each of the winning team members, a trip to Ballymaloe for their teacher Sharon O’Donnell.
Commenting at the awards event today, Michael Kelly said, “The competition overall this year has been a phenomenal success, it is really interesting to see the keen level of interest and the vast knowledge that teenagers have about their food – they are far more interested than their peers of ten or twenty years ago. The presentations from the students today and the recipes and tastes could well have come from professional food businesses; the winners Jackie, Aoibhin, Patrick, Jack, Aoife, Alex and Michael with their Rugged Rocket Soup, Wild Atlantic Soda Bread and Aran Goat’s Cheese recipes are very inspiring and I sincerely hope that they consider a career in food or food entrepreneurship in the future.”
Speaking at the final, Cullen Allen of Cully and Sully said, “The students have really blown us away, not just today, but since ‘Grow 2 CEO’ kicked off in April. Their dedication to the campaign and completion of the tasks week in and out was a testament to the students and their supportive teachers. At Cully & Sully, we strongly believe that knowing about where your food comes from and the importance of growing your own is something that everyone should be learning and have the ability to partake in from a young age. We hope that the Grow 2 CEO campaign will encourage more students and schools to make growing and food nutrition a bigger part of the curriculum.
Through the initiative, growing kits were delivered to 7,000 students across the country. The kits included everything the students required in order to grow rocket leaves including seeds, pots, soil and plenty of growing tips from GIY. The winning recipe can be found online at
GIY and Cully & Sully today presented the award of “Grow 2 CEO” Champions to Jackie Ni hUallachain, Aoibhin Ni Chonghaile, Patrick O Domhnaill, Jack O’Domhnaill, Aoife Ni Chonaill, Alex Burtenshaw and Michael Finn from Colaiste Ghobnait with their teacher Sharon Uí Domhnaill on Inisheer Island – Ireland’s newest young food entrepreneurs fought off some tough competition from 7,000 of other student entrants and won with their delicious new Rugged Rocket Soup soup recipe. Pictured are the winners along with the founder of GIY Michael Kelly and Sully of ‘Cully & Sully’ along with the competition’s guest judge Roz Purcell. The winning recipe can be found online via – Photo Patrick Browne.