Culinary students from Fareham College, Highbury College and City College Southampton all took part in a MasterChef-style competition, aimed at bringing the three colleges together and allowing the students to show off their cooking skills in a professional kitchen environment.

Organised and sponsored by Southampton-based food wholesaler, Harvest Fine Foods, and taking place at City College, the competition saw more than 50 Level 1-3 hospitality and catering students compete across different rounds designed to test their food preparation and cooking skills.

Level 1 students were asked to demonstrate their fine-dicing skills with cuts of veg under a strict time limit. Level 2 students were given 30 mins to create two identical plates of risotto using ingredients from a produce table, while Level 3 students had just 60 minutes in which to create a chicken main course using a mystery box of ingredients.

In addition to the culinary challenges, there was also a front of house round where the students had 45 minutes to lay up a table, themed around this summer’s festival of football, suitable for a five-course celebration meal.

Supporting the event were sponsors Harvest Fine Foods, Tilda Rice and Essential Cuisine, who all donated ingredients and produce for the students to use.

Speaking about the competition, Phil Clark, Development Chef at Harvest Fine Foods, said:

“As a company, we want to encourage the students to enjoy the food, enjoy the cooking and gain as much experience as they can before they go out to the industry. The students are the future chefs, future buyers and we want to help encourage more young people into the industry. We also wanted to help bring the colleges together and felt a competition like this was a great way to do it.”

Jacob Dennett, who is studying Level 1 Professional Cookery at Fareham College, and took part in the competition, said:

“It’s been a really great day. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to take part in an event like this. It’s certainly given me a taster of what working in a high-pressure kitchen environment is like.”

Ali Kent, Vice Principal of City College Southampton, presented the medals and added:

"I’m delighted that we are the first hosts of this hospitality competition and have enjoyed working with Highbury College, Fareham College and Harvest Fine Foods to deliver what has been a fantastic event. The students have all done extremely well today and should be very proud of what they’ve achieved. The dishes they created, within such a short space of time, were incredible. I hope this is the first of many competitions that local Hampshire colleges take part in together in the future."

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