A team from Fife College has emerged triumphant from the 2017 Brakes Scotland Student Chef Team Challenge live cook-off final, held at City of Glasgow College on 6th June 2017. In a breath-taking finale in front of a panel of eminent judges, the winning students beat off fierce competition from five other outstanding college teams. City of Glasgow College came a close second and SRUC Elmwood took third spot.
Entrants to this year’s competition, supported by HIT Scotland and Federation of Chefs Scotland, were challenged to create a three-course, four-cover menu inspired by a ‘Scottish Food and Drink’ theme 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 were selected to compete in the final. All finalists progressed through an initial paper judging stage.
The winning team of full time catering and hospitality students, Nicola Reilly, Rafal Kasprzak and Thomas MacNeil impressed a panel of four judges that 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 winning menu 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 Chocolate Crémeux, Drambuie Savarin, Scottish Berries, Lime Curd Ice cream.
Lead judge Kevin said: “The standard of cooking on display today was exceptional with the Fife College team displaying the perfect combination of teamwork, technique and imagination to pip the other teams to the title. Their menu was beautifully executed and demonstrated a wonderful interpretation of the ‘Scottish Food and drink’ competition theme.
“To cook dishes to this standard in a live final situation requires a tremendous amount of skill and temperament and Nicola, Rafal, Thomas showed plenty of both. Hopefully they’ll make a similar impact as they progress to professional careers within the industry.”
The winning students from Fife College will receive prizes including a once in a lifetime three-day work experience week at Gleneagles, along with representing Scotland at the Nations Cup in Grand Rapids, Michigan, America in October.
Michael Henderson, the lecturer from the team of winning students from 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 the hard work paid off.”
John McLintock, Operations Director for Brakes Scotland added “I encourage all students to get involved in competitions like the Student Chef Challenge. Competitions helps 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.”
For full details on the Student Chef Team Challenge please visit www.brake.co.uk/chefchallenge