Former SERC cookery students find recipe for love!

The happy couple: Anthony Wylie, from Lisburn, and Jade Smyth, from Ballynahinch, who met while studying Professional Cookery at South Eastern Regional College.
The happy couple: Anthony Wylie, from Lisburn, and Jade Smyth, from Ballynahinch, who met while studying Professional Cookery at South Eastern Regional College.

Take two young chefs, mix thoroughly with years of dedicated studying and add in just a dash of romance and what do you get? The recipe for love, of course!

Looking for love wasn’t on the menu for Anthony Wylie and Jade Smyth as they started college 10 years ago, but that is exactly what life served up after years studying together.

The young couple, who met during their studies at South Eastern Regional College (SERC), recently got engaged on a trip to Las Vegas.

A decade ago, Anthony attended SERC where he met the love of his life and now wife to be, Jade, while they were taking part in the Junior Chef Academy.

The loved-up duo then enrolled to study levels 1, 2 and 3 in Professional Cookery before progressing to the catering apprenticeship. The duo started dating in 2011.

Anthony spent months preparing to surprise Jade and secretly set out to propose to her during a trip of a lifetime to the USA in August last year. Anthony, 26, proposed to Jade, 25, after they enjoyed a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon.

Anthony said: “I really wanted to surprise her. I couldn’t have thought of anywhere more perfect to propose to Jade. I was very nervous and couldn’t really relax until I had proposed.”

Jade said “I was so shocked as I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was so overwhelmed. I’m surprised that I didn’t find the ring as I usually have to pack and unpack our suitcases, so he did a great job at keeping it a secret.”

Anthony and Jade are planning to get married on 9 October 2019 at the award-winning Larchfield Estate, Lisburn, and SERC is very much at the heart of their big day, with SERC tutor Ruth Doherty making the very important wedding cake.

Ruth said: “It is so exciting to play a small part in their special day and it is lovely to see how happy and successful they have both gone on to be having trained at SERC.”

With professional qualifications under their belts, the former St Patricks Academy pupil Anthony is a Sous Chef at The Lock Keepers Cottage in Belfast while Jade is a Junior Sous Chef at The Merchant Hotel.

Jade said: “When I left school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But taking part in the Junior Chef Academy fuelled my appetite for the hospitality sector.

“I took part in the Junior Chef Academy in fifth year and got to compete at Stormont Buildings in front of Ainsley Harriott and Michael Dean. Meeting my future husband-to-be on the course was a bonus. When I started the course, I quickly became friends with other students in the class. We were a very close-knit group.

“Anthony and I were friends from the beginning. We immediately hit it off and found out we had similar interests.”

Commenting on her time at SERC, Jade said: “We both thoroughly enjoyed the course. It’s a wonderful college and the tutors are very supportive, so much so that we keep in touch with them today.”

Anthony added: “Without the course I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I can’t thank the tutors enough.”

Ken Webb, SERC Principal and Chief Executive, commented: “It’s heartening to hear from former students that college actually provides the best footing for long term success in and out of the workplace. For these fortunate soulmates it has given them memories and relationships to last a lifetime.”

For more information please call 0345 600 7555 or visit the college website at