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Fife College Win National Student Chef Challenge

By 16th June 2017August 1st, 2019No Comments
Professional Cookery students from Fife College have proved they are among the best in Scotland after winning the 2017 Brakes Bros Scotland Student Chef Challenge!
Winning students l to r: Thomas MacNeil, Rafal Kasprzak and Nicola Reilly

The win guarantees the students a place in the world final in Michigan, USA in October to represent Scotland, sponsored by the Federation of Chefs, along with a three day placement opportunity at the five-star and world renowned Gleneagles Hotel, sponsored by HIT Scotland

The live-cook off final, held at City of Glasgow College on Tuesday 6th June, saw the talented team from Fife College scoop first-place after competing in a breath-taking national final held in front of a panel of eminent judges from the Scottish food world.

The winning students beat off fierce competition from five other outstanding college teams. City of Glasgow College came a close second while SRUC Elmwood took third place.

Entrants to this year’s competition, were asked to create a three-course menu inspired by a ‘Scottish Food and Drink’ theme. The students were challenged to produce four covers in just 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Teams from South Lanarkshire College, Fife College, three teams from SRUC Elmwood Campus and City of Glasgow College made it through to compete in the final. All finalists had progressed through an initial stage where they were judged for their planning, menu and menu costs.

The winning team included Nicola Reilly (44) and Thomas MacNeil (22), who both study HNC Professional Cookery at the College’s St Brycedale Campus in Kirkcaldy and Rafal Kasprzak (34), who is studying SVQ2 Professional Cookery at the College’s Levenmouth Campus in Buckhaven.

The three students put in hours of practice before the event including testing their menu out on a group from Trinidad who were visiting the College’s Levenmouth Campus and Levenmouth Academy recently.

Judges at the event on the day included: Derek Lockett, Development Chef at Brakes Scotland; Kevin MacGilvaray, Catering and Hospitality Manager at the National Trust Scotland; Robbie Penman Head Chef at Peebles Hydro; and Paul Hart from Gleneagles.

The Fife College winning menu, which impressed the judging panel, started with Scrabster landed loin of cod with seaweed gremolata, crispy skin, cauliflower cheese and pickled onions followed by a main of wild cairngorm loin of venison, venison haggis, whiskey turnip fondant, truffle celeriac puree, game jus.

Dessert was equally mouth-watering  – Chocolate Crémeux, Drambuie Savarin, Scottish Berries and Lime Curd Ice cream!

John McLintock, Operations Director for Brakes Scotland said: “I encourage all students to get involved in competitions like the Student Chef Challenge. Competitions help to replicate the pressure the students will experience when they move into the workplace, something you can’t teach at college, and gives them huge confidence and belief that what they are doing is right.

“Competitions are all about fine tuning and developing skills and The Scottish Student Chef Challenge provides all entrants with a fantastic opportunity to learn and get better as they progress from the paper judging stage to the final.”

Michael Henderson, chef lecturer at Fife College, said: “The Student Chef Challenge is a big one and in the past was the competition everyone wanted to win so we’re very happy it’s back.

“Hours of preparation, development and constant refinement got us to this stage – it’s a different environment than what the students are used to, nothing prepares you for cooking in front of a panel of judges and the pressure was really on but we are delighted that the hard work paid off.”

Lindsey Robertson, Curriculum Manager for Culinary Arts added: “We are absolutely thrilled to win this prestigious competition which is testament to the hard work put in by the students and the fantastic support they get from our chef lecturers here at Fife College.

“The final was indeed breath taking and we very proud of Nicola, Thomas and Rafal who worked so well together to make a winning team.

“Competitions such as these are hard work but also lots of fun and add a great deal to our students’ learning experience. I would like to thank Brakes for organising and sponsoring the competition and to City of Glasgow College who did a fantastic job in hosting the event.”

Applications are open now for courses beginning at Fife College in August including, NQ Bakery and General Operations, NC Professional Cookery, HNC Professional Cookery and NQ Intro to Hospitality and Catering. For further details visit or call 0344 2480115.

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